|Agric ministers to meet over cotton prices|
|Friday, 17 August 2012 00:00|
The need to come up with a viable cotton price has gone regional with three countries seeking to find a solution to the stand-off between gvrowers and buyers. Agriculture ministers from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia are expected to meet soon to discuss the future of the cotton industry.
The ministers would also discuss how governments could best protect farmers.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said he met his Malawian and Zambian counterparts Peter Mwanza and Emmanuel Chenda respectively in Zambia over the issue.
The ministers met on the sidelines of the official opening of the Zambia Agriculture and Commercial Show.
Minister Made said the three countries realised that they had similar challenges over cotton prices.
Buyers are offering between US30 cents and US35 cents per kilogramme of cotton seed in all the three countries.
“We also realised that common companies are operating in the three countries.
“That is why we agreed to meet as the three ministers to discuss among other issues the future of cotton production,” he said.
Minister Made said the meeting will also discuss ways to expand the cotton sector.
He said the three countries will discuss floods in Asia and droughts in the United States of America, Brazil and Mexico.
Minister Mwanza recently applauded Minister Made for gazetting cotton pricing as cotton ginners and farmers had failed to agree on prices for long.
In Zambia, some cotton farmers burnt cotton lint which was being transported by Cargill while they are also threatening to burn the cotton crop they had in protest at the low prices.
In Zimbabwe, Government had to intervene and gazette the price but ginners are yet to buy the crop atg the new prices.
Farmers are thus refusing to sell their crop at the old US35 cents per kilogramme.
Some companies are reportedly closing buying points as farmers continue to withhold their crop.
Ginners have also remained quiet as they argue that the step taken by Minister Made was a Cabinet decision, which they said, they had no powers to influence.
The ginners are, however, expected to give their side of the story at the cotton all stakeholders conference to be held this week.
The price of cotton is determined internationally and there is little developing countries can do to influence it.
Other developed countries have resorted to subsidising their farmers to keep them in business.
Due to financial constraints, developing countries have been urged to boost yields per unit area to realise profits from the crop.