GOKWE — Finance minister Tendai Biti last weekend told cotton farmers to use genetically-modified seeds and adopt biotechnology mechanisation to ensure their crops meet international standards.
Addressing farmers at Chitekete business centre in Gokwe North on Saturday, Biti said: “We have a lot to learn from other countries like India that have become competitive through the introduction of biotechnology mechanisation, and also they give minimum support price to farmers.”
Biti told farmers that the government was working towards gazetting a statutory instrument that would safeguard cotton producers from unfair price regimes fixed by merchants.
He said the statutory instrument would allow the Minister of Agriculture and Mechanisation Joseph Made to determine the price of cotton as compared to the current scenario where the price was determined by the Cotton Ginners’ Association, a privately-run cartel that is currently embroiled in a bitter wrangle with the farmers over cotton producer prices.
The farmers have vowed to withhold their crop demanding that the association reviews its prices from $0,32 to at least $0,85 per kilogramme.
Gokwe-Kubuyuni MP Costin Muguti also urged the government to introduce subsidies.
“Ginners are offering unprofitable prices and setting prices would certainly kill the agriculture sector which is the backbone of Zimbabwe. So the government should consider subsidies,” Muguti said.
A farmer in the area, Manyongodora Nyoni, accused the Agriculture ministry of creating monopolies through Statutory Instrument 63 of 2011 that registered cotton-buying merchants.