ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa:Cotton farming in Zimbabwe
Growing conditions and growing area
- Zimbabwe is the largest producer of the crop in Africa south of the Sahara.
- A bush crop grown in summer using dry land farming.
- Rainfall at least 600 mm in the growing season.
- Temperature wide tolerance but must exceed 21°C at ripening. Soils should be deep clayey soils which are the best although black earths would do.
- Sowing is done at start of rain season.
- Bush plants grow and weeding is done by hand.
- Spraying against boll weevils must occur.
- Picking occurs when balls ripen.
- 70% of the lint is exported. 49% comes from communal farmers.
- After harvesting, the plants are burnt to kill all pests.
Processing and marketing
- After picking the cotton is packed in bales.
- The bales are collected by lorries to depots established by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco).
- The cotton is sold as lint or seed the sale being controlled by Cottco.
- Lint is used to make clothes, blankets and furniture fabrics in the textile industry while seed is used to manufactured vegetable oil and livestock protein cake.
- Both lint and seed are also exported for foreign currency during this period.
- Pests particularly weevils and aphids can destroy the crop.
- Exceptionally long, wet seasons spoil the crop as sunshine and heat are necessary for ripening.
- Competition is stiff from wool, silk and synthetic fibres from oil and coal.
- In a country like Zimbabwe, cotton picking is done manually, requiring a lot of contract labour.
- Some farmers do not burn stalks at prescribed times, leading to outbreaks of diseases.
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