The Plant Quarantine Services has warned cotton farmers here to complete the de-stocking of cotton stems or risk being penalised starting nextweek.

Plant health inspector in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Mr Julius Dhliwayo told farmers here that beginning next week farmers who ignore the order to de-stock cotton stems in their fields will be punished.

“We have been telling our farmers about the importance of destroying stocks of cotton which you planted in the just ended season. The removal of stocks is good for you, it controls the resistance of pests and diseases hence the need for you to abide by the set time frames,” he said.

“Slashing started at the beginning of August and was due to end by August 15.

“Those who are yet to kick-start the destruction process must be warned that they will soon be arrested for failing to comply.”

Mr Dhliwayo said they reached out to many cotton farmers to avoid a repeat of last season when the majority failed to de-stock.

Failure to de-stock was detrimental to ongoing efforts to ramp up cotton production and make the white gold a major foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe.

“We will be fining defaulters $20 for every hectare which a farmer would have failed to de-stock.

“Last year we faced a very big challenge with most of the farmers, but I am happy to note an improvement, but we will take action on those who ignore because the laws of the land stipulates that we take action,” said Mr Dhliwayo.

Chipinge South Legislator Cde Enock Porusingazi said pests such as the fall armyworm were now affecting farmers who fail to de-stock their fields.

“The process of de-stocking and burning last season’s cotton is not an attempt by Government to fix farmers, the requirement is aimed at protecting the farmer.

“Government is giving you new seed, fertilisers and chemicals because they want you continue producing high quality cotton,” said Cde Porusingazi.

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