Cotton growers who had an early crop during the 2019-2020 summer cropping season have started picking as they wait for the Government to come up with a producer price.

This year’s crop was affected by late rains which resulted in some farmers delaying planting while the crop was also affected by mid-season dry spells.

Picking is thus expected to be in full throttle end of this month into May.

Last year farmers produced 73 000 tonnes of cotton with bulk of the crop coming from the Government Cotton Free Inputs Scheme being spearheaded by Cottco.

About 63 000 tonnes of cotton were produced by farmers under the Government sponsored scheme.

Under the scheme, farmers are provided with free seed, fertiliser, chemicals and in some cases tillage facilities to those without draught power.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, Mr Paul Zakariya yesterday confirmed that farmers who had an early cotton crop had started picking.

“The seed cotton producer price will soon be set. Input from ginners and producers were submitted to AMA. All parties will be guided further by the performance of the world markets since 80-90 percent of our lint is exported.

“The lockdown did not really affect on farm operations. Government came in with adjustments to deem agriculture an essential service on the third day of the lockdown. Not much has been lost,” he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union vice president, Mrs Mayiwepi Jiti confirmed that some farmers and started picking their cotton and said farmers were expecting authorities to come up with viable price that will enable them to break even.

“Cotton farmers were well supported this season although they planted their crop a bit late due to the delayed rains.

“Farmers are anticipating viable prices that will make cotton production viable considering high costs of production. It is essential that cotton growers work with ginneries so they can process their crop and sell finished products. Small ginneries for a household or a small community placed at strategic locations in the cotton growing areas will benefit the farmers tremendously,” she said.

Last season Government pegged the cotton producer price at $1 950 per tonne.