Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Government has assured cotton farmers that they will get their outstanding payments from last marketing season by May 31.
Cottco owes farmers $1, 5 billion from last season with the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka confirming that payments will be settled by end of this month.
Responding to questions from legislators in Parliament yesterday on when cotton farmers were going to get their money, Minister Masuka said the electronic payments were last year disrupted prompting Cottco to partly pay farmers in the form of groceries.
“May I also take the opportunity to reassure the House and cotton farmers that the outstanding dues to farmers from 2020 selling season will be paid out by the 31st May, 2021.
“The 2020’s marketing season we had macro-economic challenges and then payment, electronic money was disrupted to some extent and then Cottco opted to part pay farmers in the form of groceries.
“A balance is also due to those farmers as Government support. Now that the economy has stabilised, inflation is coming down and the payment system has been put in place, we all hope that the payment for cotton farmers this season will proceed seamlessly and smoothly and that farmers will receive their due payments,” he said.
Minister Masuka said Government was committed to ensuring to provide further support to ensure that cotton production becomes a viable undertaking by the smallholder sector.
The 2021 marketing season starts on May 18.
Cotton farmers will this season be paid $85 per kilogramme.
There are 359 permanent cotton buying points and 413 mobile cotton buying points that have been established countrywide for buying purposes.
In terms of Statutory instrument 96 of 2021, cotton must be delivered to designated agents which are Cottco, Southern Cotton Company, Zimbabwe cotton Consortium, Alliance Ginners and ShawashAgri.
The Ministry warned farmers against side marketing and urged them to deliver cotton to their respective contractors. Buyers who did not contract cotton production were also warned not to buy the crop.
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi recently said this year’s price was viable but also meant an increase in the Government subsidy if the price of the commodity is suppressed on the international market.