By Reason Razao | Senior Reporter
Government has said it will not set prices of cotton between growers and contractors adding that the authorities will only observe to see that the agreed terms are met.
Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Anxious Masuka revealed that government only set cotton prices to the farmers they give inputs.
Masuka was addressing concerns raised by legislators during a Question and Answer session in parliament.
Responding to concerns raised by MPs on potential exploitation of farmers by contractors, Masuka said cotton growers had the power to enter into agreements with the funder of their choice.
“The Government does not set prices or conditions of how to pay. As Government, we receive from the contractors, the cost of growing cotton on a specific area, like a Pfumvudza plot,” said Masuka.
“As for the farmers that we give inputs, that is when we state the price that we expect to buy, but the other private contractors agree on the prices they are going to pay. Government does not go into contract with farmers. Farmers get into contract with the private players.”
This year, according to Masuka, eight contractors have engaged and entered into agreements with cotton farmers.
“I said we had a meeting with eight contractors or companies that go out there in the rural areas. Those eight companies will be interacting with the farmers out there in the rural areas that we represent. So, we expect the country to grow a lot of cotton.”
The Agriculture minister said these companies would provide all the necessary inputs to the cotton farmers in each district through what is called Common Inputs Delivery Point.
As for pricing and payment of farmers whose inputs are funded by the government, the Masuka said they have come up with a system that will see both parties benefiting.
“Government is interested in pricing of cotton so that there is fair return for the farmers effort. Last year we introduced a grid differentiated pricing system that is sensitive to the hard work that farmers had put in and we had started at 40c a kilogramme which is comparable to other jurisdictions in the region,” Masuka said.