Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Cotton farmers will this year be paid in three tranches as Government has taken it upon itself to ensure farmers get their money, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka has said.
This comes as Government has also increased its shares in Cottco from 30 to 51 percent.
Minister Masuka said this in Parliament on Wednesday while explaining the cotton marketing season to legislators.
Legislators wanted to know when farmers will receive their money from last season and how the crop will be paid this year.
Minister Masuka said he hoped the macroeconomic stability would enable Government to pay farmers this year.
“This is why this year farmers will be paid in three tranches, Grade A is $85 per kilogramme and Grade D is $56 per kg, farmers will be paid $34 per kg immediately upon delivery,” he said.
“They will be paid an additional official $22 a kg and then upon grading of their cotton, any cotton that then goes into grade B and A will also attract another premium.”
He said farmers had started receiving their payments from last season.
Minister Masuka said Cottco did not have a timeframe for payments as was the case with the GMB.
“Government is assisting because cotton is important for Zimbabwe,” he said. “Government took it upon themselves that farmers should be given the Presidential Cotton Scheme to assist them since the Government does not have an independent company for cotton growers.
“We have shares in Cottco, so let us use Cottco to buy the cotton. Cottco is experiencing financial challenges and quite a number of other challenges.”
Government in the past month has increased its shareholding in Cottco from 51 percent onwards.
“This means that Government will now be able to investigate how Cottco operates like we do with GMB which is a Government entity,” said Minister Masuka.
“However, Government has taken it upon itself to assist farmers and ensure that they are paid.”
Minister Masuka said the Reserve Bank had supported the cotton industry through guarantees and they should be getting $5 billion so that they are able to buy cotton.
“As we buy cotton, it is different from the way we buy maize and traditional grains,” he said.
“With GMB, we can sell these products to other farmers and to other countries and we get funding, but with cotton, it has to be taken to the ginnery and then after that it is sold.
“It takes time to realise returns from cotton. I have taken up all that has been said. The Government has now increased its shareholding to 51 percent in Cottco so that it has control over this cotton company and will show transparency.”
Minister Masuka said cotton was an important crop for the transformation of rural livelihoods for the accomplishment of Vision 2030.
“It is in this regard that Government has supported the revival of the cotton industry that has seen the cotton industry grow from 28 000 metric tonnes in 2015 to the expected 150 000 to 195 000 metric tonnes this year.
This is demonstrative of Government’s commitment,” he said.