Cotton farmers in Lundazi advised against ratoon plants

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—Lundazi District Agricultural Coordinator (DACO), Philemoni Lungu, has advised  cotton farmers to immediate remove old cotton plants from their fields, failure to which they would be prosecuted for contravening the Pest and Disease Act of the Laws of Zambia.

Mr Lungu said cotton farmers who fail to uproot and destroy the previous cotton plants in their fields by October 1 every year commit an offence because they contravene the Pest and Disease Act Cap 223, Section 31 of Cotton regulation under the Laws of Zambia.

ZANIS in Lundazi reports that Mr Lungu was addressing farmers during the launch of the Strategic Plan for 2014-2016 of the Lima Credit Scheme where he also donated thirty bicycles to contact farmers in Lundazi district.

He disclosed that ratoon cotton, which is undestroyed previous cotton plant, has since given his Department problems among cotton farmers in the district, adding that scientifically such a plant is a source of crop disease as insects breed in old crops.

Mr Lungu noted that keeping ratoon cotton plant is an offence which should be discouraged by farmers at all cost in order to protect the cotton industry in the district.

He further disclosed that most cotton farmers prefer to maintain old raton cotton plants because they intend to reduce costs.

Mr Lungu said his ministry, through five agricultural blocks in the district, every year sensitises farmers on the dangers and disadvantages of preserving of old cotton plants because  the trend, if not checked, could  destroy the cotton industry  not only in Lundazi but Zambia as a  country.

He, however, complained that mostly culprits are contact farmers sponsored by private cotton companies in the district, whose interest is to make more profits on ratoon cotton plants.