It is business unusual as the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) resumes the farming season with the distribution of cotton inputs under restrictive policies in Gokwe.

These policies have restricted those farmers who produced less than what was agreed and those who did not produce or grow cotton at all last season from accessing these free inputs ahead of the 2020/21 farming season.

Under these measures, a farmer who produced less than 1000kgs only received 10kg of cotton seed and 100kg of Compound D fertilizer.

Farmers who produced more than 2000kgs were given 20kg cotton seed and 200kg Compound D fertiliser and so on.

The farmers who did not produce anything were not given inputs on the grounds that they use seed issued in the previous season.

I saw the chairman and he told me that we were given inputs but we did not produce anything. So they claim we have these inputs in stock yet we don’t have. Some sold chemical inputs and fed the seed to their livestock. Some did not take the inputs at all. So I’m ready to face the manager any time soon,” said a fuming farmer.

However, there are some like Mr Dlowayo from Chiutsi area who felt stabbed by Cottco’s behaviour.

I had abandoned cotton farming. This time I was attracted by building material and groceries which they were giving farmers as compensation for producing the product. So I wanted to give cotton a second trial. The whole summer I was ploughing the area I wanted to grow cotton but now they are letting me down,” said Dliwayo.

This is happening at a time when farmers are preparing for planting and they don’t have enough seed.

Gokwe communal farmers are not affording expensive maize seed and other related inputs. As such, they resort to growing cotton inputs are free and have quick returns from which they buy food, clothes, pay bills and spend on amusement.

In April the Cotton Research Centre was in Gokwe-Chitekete and Masakadza were they were equipping farmers with adequate knowledge on cotton production.

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