June 2009: Artesia Agricultural Science Center. (photo by Jesse Ramirez)GOVERNMENT has provided free cotton seed to farmers in an effort to revive the sector which at one time was the country’s biggest source of export revenue.

According to an announcement released by the country’s biggest cotton ginning company, Cottco, the government provided for all the inputs requirements for the new season for free to cotton farmers.

“The government’s free inputs scheme has seen 4 156 tonnes of planting seed being disbursed to farmers which translates to 245 000 hectares,” said the company.

The move by the government comes at a time the cotton farming sector has been on a decline for several years.

In the 2014/15 season, the cotton industry’s national crop declined further to 100 000 tonnes from 135 000 tonnes in the 2013/14 season. In 2011 Zimbabwe produced 268 000 tonnes.

The decline over the years is due to poor funding by the cotton industry players who have become cautious and risk averse following a spate of poor yields. International lint prices have also remained subdued threatening the viability of the cotton sector.

Analysts however said government’s efforts might fail to revive the sector given the late start of the planting season due to erratic rainfall caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

“The El Niño phenomenon is likely to reduce yields compared to the volumes of the seed taken by farmers,” said Cottco, adding that the global lint prices continue to be bearish as global production and stocks on hand continue to exceed demand.

Govt gives free cotton seeds to farmers

Author: N/A

Source: New Zimbabwe

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