Payment delays for farmers stifle cotton production

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

GOVERNMENT’S failure to pay cotton farmers timeously has resulted in reduced production of the crop this season.

In the 2021-2022 season, a total of 367 945ha was utilised for cotton farming compared to 380 127ha the previous season.

Cotton is one of the leading export crops in the country.

Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had engaged consultants to increase shareholding in contracting companies.

“Concerning cotton, the cabinet wishes to advise the public that the delayed payment of farmers and late onset of the rains affected the total area that was put to seed cotton,”Mutsvangwa said.

“A total of 367 945ha was put under seed cotton compared to the 380 127ha in the 2020/21 season.  In a bid to increase shareholding in the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, the government has engaged consultants.”

Cotton production in Zimbabwe declined to an all-time low of 32 000 tonnes in 2016, from 84 000 tonnes in 2015, and 143 000 tonnes in 2014.

Government encouraged the milling industry and stock feed manufacturers to enter into contract farming for uninterrupted supplies of grain requirements.

Farmers have accused some contractors of swindling them of their profits through failing to pay them after delivering crops to them.  They are also accused of overcharging farming inputs.

“The milling industry and stock feed manufacturers are allocated 45 000 metric tonnes and 30 000 metric tonnes of maize monthly, respectively. The milling Industry and stock feed manufacturers are encouraged to enter into contract farming for uninterrupted supply of their grain requirements. In light of increased demand for maize, the cabinet resolved to lift the maize import ban to facilitate imports by private players with free funds.”