Govt fails to break cotton buyers/farmers stalemate

Roadwin Chirara/Munyaradzi Wasosa

GOVERNMENT has failed to break the price impasse between disgruntled cotton farmers and buyers, the Zimbabwe Independent heard yesterday.



=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Angry farmers, representative farmer organisations, cotton buyers, and the National Cotton Council besieged Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s office on Wednesday demanding a review of the cotton price. They held a lengthy meeting with him in a bid to break the deadlock.


In an interview yesterday, National Cotton Council chairman, Phineus Chingono, said the parties had failed to come up with a solution. He said if the confusion in the cotton industry continues, that would be detrimental to the cotton sector.


“If the situation continues like this, we are likely to head the Ugandan way where the industry collapsed because of poor quality crops and lack of financial support,” Chingono said.


He said the industry was in urgent need of a regulatory body, which could monitor and determine issue such as prices.


“Prices of the crop are not determined mainly by the buyers but factors such as the prevailing price on the international markets had a bearing on the final price offered to the farmers,” Chingono said.


Agricultural analysts have warned the impasse threatened the industry’s viability and suggested a compromise.


MDC Agriculture secretary Renson Gasela said it was imperative that an agreement be reached to save the industry from collapse.


“The price offered by buyers is on the downside, while they cannot sell the cotton at a loss,” Gasela said.


“The farmers deserve a price that makes it profitable to continue growing the commodity, yet at the same time buyers like Cottco need to sell the cash crop on the international market profitably.”


Gasela blamed what he termed government’s “agricultural mismanagement” for the impasse.


“What this boils down to is government’s mismanagement of agriculture over the years,” he said.


“Inflation is still high, so the farmers want a higher price to offset high input costs, especially fertiliser and irrigation expenses.”


The cotton farmers recently declared that they would not sell their produce following the suspension of the reviewing of the producer price of seed cotton from $1800/kg to at least $3000/kg.


Cottco Corporate Communications executive, Maria Pangidzwa, said on a recent tour of Cottco’s subsidiary, Scottco (Pvt) Ltd, the farmers wanted an increase to cover up for their inefficiency.


“Those farmers who are demanding an increase in the producer price of cotton are covering up for their failure to produce maximum quantities on their pieces of land,” Pangidzwa said, responding to questions from the press.


“These farmers were reneging on the deal to sell their bales to us, despite the company having provided them with all necessary inputs.”

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