Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Newly-elected chairperson of the Commercial Sugarcane Farmers Association of Zimbabwe Captain Admore Hwarare (Retired) has promised to resolve outstanding disputes between Tongaat Hulett and outgrower farmers in Chiredzi.
In his acceptance speech after being elected to lead the farmers’ association, Captain Hwarare (Rtd) said his priority was to address the dispute surrounding the division of proceeds (DOP) ratio, including non-payment of revenues accruing from sugarcane by-products that would have been delivered by farmers.
The association also plans to explore more markets for the crop. Through the current DOP ratio, farmers get 77 percent of the proceeds from their crop, while millers are entitled to 23 percent. In essence, it is used by millers to determine the charge for milling the crop. Farmers feel that they should get more.
“When the light comes, darkness automatically flees. You have elected me and the rest of the association’s executive with the hope and trust that we will deliver on some of the problems which have been bedevilling this industry,” said Captain Hwarare.
“Next week, we will start by engaging Tongaat to start paying us our retention. This is the money which we told them to keep for us. We anticipate that no Zimra or Zinwa would deduct from this payment since every one of us has paid tax.”
Captain Hwarare said the DOP impasse needed to be solved urgently.
“As your trusted servant, I am prepared to reintroduce negotiations between the Government, Tongaat and us farmers over the DOP issue,” he said.
Chiredzi West legislator Cde Darlington Chiwa, who was elected committee member, challenged the new executive to look into the issue of middlemen involved in the sugar selling chain.
“Chairman, make sure you call for elections when your term of office expires,” he said.
This would give us, your members, confidence in your leadership.
“We request that you look into a scenario in which sugar was selling at $1,60 per 2kg in 2012 and the farmer was getting $760 per tonne,” said Cde Chiwa.
“Now sugar is selling at $2, the farmer is getting $570, we need answers on this.”
Cde Chiwa said the middlemen, including some banking institutions, were being involved in selling sugar.
“We want the association to take charge of the selling of our sugar to markets which favour us instead of being forced to sell to markets which give us no return,” he said.
The new executive includes vice chairperson Mr Julius Changamire, secretary-general Mr Ralph Sakupwanya, who will deputised by Mr Tawana Manyonga. Mr Colin Togarepi was elected treasurer, while five other committee members were also elected.