Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zimbabwe Vice-President Mujuru Calls for Sanity on Cotton Prices

Mujuru calls for sanity on cotton prices

From Ray Bande in Mutare
Zimbabwe Herald

Vice President Joice Mujuru has urged farmers and cotton merchants to strike a balance and come up with a win-win situation that ensures the sector’s survival.

She made the remarks at a time when most cotton farmers in the Lowveld area of Chisumbanje were withholding their crop citing low prices offered by the eight cotton buying firms in the locality.

Although Government recently set the price at 50 US cents per kg for grade A cotton, most companies here are still buying the crop at 33 US cents.

Addressing farmers at a field day in Munepasi under Chief Garahwa last Thursday, VP Mujuru said Zimbabwe could not afford to lose revenue generated from exporting the cash crop.

"There is a projected 280 million kg of cotton at the end of this year’s selling season and we must all ensure that we achieve that for the good of the country.

"I was deeply touched by complaints coming from farmers around this area that cotton buying companies offered 45 US cents per kg last season and instead of increasing they have reviewed the price downwards to 33 US cents.

"In any case, Government will not sit and watch farmers suffering.

"We really want to see them producing more cotton for the nation.

"However, I urge both parties — the farmers and cotton buying companies — to come to the negotiating table and come up with a price that is good for them.

"Farmers also have to remember that the cotton buying companies are in business," she said.

VP Mujuru urged cotton farmers to shun side-marketing and respect agreements they entered into with cotton buying companies.

Cotton Ginners’ Association Lowveld chairman Mr Andrew Mupfawa said out of a total US$7 million worth of inputs cotton buying companies availed to farmers, only US$1,4 has been recovered as the crop was withheld.

Mr Mupfawa took a swipe at buyers that enticed farmers to neglect their contracts by offering high prices.

"All we need is the sustenance of cotton farming and this industry cannot be sustained as long as our policies encourage side-marketing.

"It is disheartening to note that all players in the Lowveld have pumped inputs worth US$7 million but our recoveries are standing at US$1,4 million."

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Member of the House of Assembly for Mutare South Cde Fred Kanzama, Zanu-PF Politburo members Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire and Cde Munacho Mutezo, and several senior Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial officials attended the field day.

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