by Christopher Makaza
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association President, Mr Stewart Mubonderi has urged women farmers to take advantage of the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and take up cotton growing seriously to transform their lives.
Speaking to Harare Post yesterday, Mr Mubonderi revealed that out of the targeted 600 000 hectares of the white gold under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme this year, 200 000 hectares is reserved for women farmers.
“We have decided to support the women farmers as you are aware that they are the ones who do most of the farming activities at home. There are a lot of requests from women who want to venture into cotton farming, the majority of them are widows. This year we are going to start supporting women farmers from Gokwe Nembudziya and Muzarabani areas and then proceed to other cotton growing areas in the next farming season,” he said.
Mr Mubonderi revealed that after selling their produce, the women will be provided with free transport by Cottco to areas of their choice for shopping. He further revealed that they were going to invite the First Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa to come and launch the women’s cotton project before the start of the rain season.
Mr Mubonderi also revealed that the distribution of the 2020/21 agricultural Inputs under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme has since started and farmers in areas such as Muzarabani, Chiredzi and Gokwe have already benefited.
“We want to thank President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the timeous distribution of the cotton inputs for the coming agricultural season. This will enable farmers to make the necessary farming preparations ahead of the rain season,” he said.
Mr Mubonderi noted that cotton farmers were happy with Cottco’s plan of purchasing goods and properties on behalf of farmers as part of their payment for their last season’s cotton deliveries.
“Cotton farmers countrywide are really happy with the arrangement which they said protected them from impulse buying. People are now competing to buy properties and agricultural inputs through the scheme. Few weeks ago, I handed over 14 gold mills in Sanyati bought by Cottco on behalf of farmers,” he said.
The Programme was introduced by Cottco following the closure of its merchant Econet lines by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in its fight against corrupt tendencies by unscrupulous cash dealers who fuelled inflation.
Cotton production had become so unenviable that many farmers had switched to other crops due to poor prices and lack of adequate support from cotton companies.
Government’s initiative of the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme has empowered thousands of households, transforming their lives.
The cotton industry remains strategic to Zimbabwe’s economy. The industry sustains more than 400 000 households and has the potential to significantly generate foreign currency.