Zimbabwe’s cotton production has increased 150 per cent this year. Cotton output increased to 70,000 tons up from 28,000 tons produced during last season.
The Presidential Inputs Program, a free input support program, has managed to empower thousands of farmers who had abandoned the crop due to exploitative financing models by private contractors.
Private companies were giving farmers inputs at inflated prices and buying the commodity at very low prices. So at the end of the day farmers were essentially providing free labor because all the income would go toward debt repayment. In certain instances, some farmers ended up losing their property or livestock after failing to repay.
But the Presidential Inputs Program has come to their rescue. It has had a huge impact on the livelihoods of people. Farmers have managed to upgrade their homes, buy cattle, even cars, animal drawn ploughs. Parents are paying school fees. Service providers such as transporters are back and most grocery shops in villages have re-opened. Commercial activities have grown.
The program has helped boost cotton production, tame poverty among the rural people and created jobs. It has empowered disadvantaged women and would go a long way in reviving downstream industries such as textiles.