AMA calls for climate-proofing of cotton amid drought

Staff Writer

The Agricultural Marketing Authority has called for the adoption of climate-proofing cotton amid reduced yields this season due to an El Niño-induced drought.

El Niño’s grip on the region has resulted in a challenging season for cotton growers. The planting season got off to a late and unreliable start, with prolonged dry periods following the initial rains.

These harsh conditions severely hampered crop development, resulting in AMA chief executive Clever Isaya anticipating a lower total cotton production compared to previous years.

“The 2024 marketing season comes against a backdrop of the El Niño-induced droughts that led to reduced cotton yields,” Isaya said at the 2024 Seed Cotton Marketing Season Launch.

“The season has been challenging, characterised by a late and false start of the rains, followed by prolonged dry spells. This adversely affected yield and expected total production. Climate-proofing of cotton through adoption of Pfumvudza/Intwasa becomes key to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Pfumvudza/Intwasa is a conservation agriculture technique that promotes minimal soil disturbance, mulching, and the use of small planting basins to optimise water retention. This method has proven successful in increasing yields and reducing reliance on rainfall in drought-prone regions.

The call for climate-proofing comes as Zimbabwe, along with other southern African countries, grapples with the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon. The country has declared a state of disaster in several regions due to the drought’s impact on food security.

Cotton is a vital cash crop for Zimbabwe, contributing significantly to the country’s agricultural exports and providing income for many small-scale farmers.

The AMA’s push for climate-resilient practices underscores the importance of safeguarding this critical sector in the face of a changing climate.

Cotton is a crucial cash crop for Zimbabwe, generating income for millions of small-scale farmers and contributing significantly to the country’s foreign currency earnings.

By adopting climate-proofing measures, the AMA hopes to ensure the cotton industry’s resilience and safeguard the livelihoods of those who depend on it.

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