Government currently supports about 90 percent of all cotton grown in the country through the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme. The incentive is on foreign currency generated after trade and is paid in bond notes. Cotton output is expected to increase significantly this season after the number of registered farmers increased to around 400 000 from 155 000 farmers in the 2016-17 summer season.
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) should assess companies licensed to buy cotton on the level of support they offer to farmers, the Cotton Producers and Marketers Association has said.According to cotton farmersâ€™ representatives, the move could minimise externalisation of foreign currency by companies that are not supporting cotton farming but are licensed as cotton buyers.
In an interview, Cotton Producersâ€™ and Marketersâ€™ Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi said AMA should ensure that Government is not prejudiced of foreign currency by unscrupulous buyers.â€œWe have a situation where only two companies are seriously supporting farmers apart from Government. The rest are getting allocations to buy cotton from farmers that is above the threshold of their support to farmers.
â€œThe question is where do they get the balance of cotton to match the tonnage they would have indicated to AMA? This can only mean that they will buy from contracted farmers elsewhere and that is side marketing,â€ Mr Mubonderi said. He also expressed concern over cotton side-marketing, calling it a cancer that is killing the cotton industry.
Mr Mubonderi said, should license merchants according to the level of tangible support to farmers and investment in the sector. â€œFailure to do that will lead to generation of a false database that is faked to serve the interest of side marketers while giving the nation false figures in terms of the tonnage produced,â€ he said.He also urged farmers to provide correct cellphone numbers for easy transfer of money through mobile money plat- forms.The farmersâ€™ body called for tight monitoring of the situation to ensure that the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) gets good return on Governmentâ€™s investment in the sector. Farmers have also called on Government to honour its pledge to pay a five percent export incentive amid indications that some farmers provided inaccurate banking details. â€œNo farmer has received the five percent export incentive and we would like to urge Government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to speed up the process so that farmers remain motivated,â€ he said.
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