BY MOSES MATENGA
MPs have implored government to pay cotton farmers on time if it is to curb side marketing.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena, was in Zvipani, Hurungwe Mashonaland West province where cotton farmers raised concern over late payment of their dues by Cottco.
Wadyajena said farmers ought to be respected and paid early.
“Cottco said it was engaged in the hybrid programme, so we are here to see if they were telling the truth,” he said.
“But before I speak on that, it is painful to us as Parliament and as committee that last year, we were in Chitekete, Gokwe, and farmers were not happy. They are not getting their money. I don’t know what is really going on.”
He added: “As Parliament, we gave a report to have cotton farmers treated the same way as tobacco farmers.
“If it was tobacco, today most of the ministers would have been here. We do not want to think that the ministry is neglecting you. As parliamentarians, we want you to get your money on time just like what is happening just now to maize farmers. In your case, you are yet to receive your 2020 dues. How are you surviving?
“Such delays cause side marketing that we do not want. If you then come and give fertilizer to the farmers, they will end up choosing to sell it and get quick money than to farm and get nothing. That is a problem we need to address.”
“We had a meeting where we were told all cotton farmers would get their money by May 15. It hasn’t happened,” he said.
“What we are fighting as Parliament is side marketing. If you got inputs under the presidential scheme, take that to Cottco. Cottco is the only one to buy the cotton from the presidential scheme. Other players only buy the cotton they contracted you to produce.”
Cottco managing director Pious Manamike promised to ensure the farmers are paid in time, adding that the new cotton hybrid seed was a game-changer for farmers and the country.
“What we have seen here is far much better than that we have been using, in that the yields are much better in terms of ball count. On the one we use, you heard the farmer spoke of 15 balls per plant, here we are talking of 80 to 100 balls per plant. So if you do your maths, you discover this hybrid has good advantage on weight,” he said.
The cotton marketing season began on Tuesday, but farmers are yet to get their dues from last year’s crop.
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