Wednesday, July 04, 2012
by Roman Moyo
AGRICULTURE Minister Joseph Made has said focus should be shifted to resuscitating the local textile industry if distortions in the cotton industry are to be resolved. Cotton farmers are currently locked in a dispute with ginners over prices with many refusing to sell their crop until the merchants meet their demands.
The farmers are demanding between 70 cents to US$1 per kg while ginners are offering 30 cents per kg. "I am aware of the ongoing impasse among farmers, ginners and merchants which is now affecting the production of cotton," Made said.
"As government we want to revive the textile industry as the best solution to the challenges bedevilling the cotton farmer.
“My ministry will soon amend the statutory instrument for the cotton sector while cabinet is also expected to finalize its position to save the farmer.
"Ginners are reaping off cotton farmers through giving them inputs at exorbitant prices and later on classifying all their cotton under the lowest grade D."
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) last month declared cotton a controlled commodity and the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) said the development means the government is now the sole buyer of the crop.
“Following the failure to agree on price between merchants and cotton farmers, government has declared cotton a controlled commodity with immediate effect. This means that the entire cotton crop will be purchased by government," the ZFU said.
Farmers have been refusing to sell their crop citing low producer prices with buyers claiming a volatile international market has resulted in depressed lint prices.
The ZFU said the farmers should continue to hold onto their crop until the problem is resolved.
"Farmers should start harvesting the crop and keep it whilst the government is putting the machinery in place to buy the cotton,” the Union said.
“The producer price will soon be announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development.
“The Union encourages farmers to withhold their cotton while awaiting further government action."