|Govt disturbed by tobacco, cotton prices on offer|
|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 11:36|
THE Government is disturbed by the prices offered for tobacco and cotton and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development is now looking at ways of ensuring that farmers receive adequate returns.
Minister Joseph Made last Thursday said Government was disturbed by developments in the marketing of critical crops such as cotton and tobacco.
“Contractors are working in cahoots with merchants to create price ceilings that leave farmers poorer after every selling season so we want to create a situation in which farmers are capacitated to produce free crops that allow them to earn more.”
Crops produced without contractual support leave the farmers capacitated to bargain for favourable prices and selling to buyers of their choice instead of being mere price takers as is the situation at the moment.
At the opening of the tobacco-marketing season when most farmers were delivering tobacco primings that are of low quality and normally fetch low prices, the highest price was US$4,99 per kg.
This price has remained the highest that has been offered to this day despite the coming in of quality tobacco typical of mid-marketing season.
“I think it is time we stop crying about sanctions every day and start doing our own initiatives to save agriculture, which is the bedrock of our economy.
The lax involvement of Government in resource mobilisation, the Minister said, had allowed contractors and merchants to take advantage of the resultant void to fleece farmers.
Farmers on the other hand have also been left with no option but to fall for the contractors’ carrot to gain access to inputs, funding and markets.
Merchants were offering between 36 cents and 50 cents for a kilogram of the white gold yet farmers wanted something between 75 cents and US$1,20 for a kilogram. Farmers have consequently vowed to hold on to their cotton. This has been a common situation in most recent marketing seasons in Zimbabwe and its regional neighbours. Many farmers have ended up side-marketing and having property attached in the end after failing to settle their debts while some have even opted out.