Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Remaining cotton payments will be released soon as the Finance and Economic Development Ministry released $500 million last week with more to follow.
The Government said it was making it a priority to pay the outstanding dues and ensure a smooth transition from the last season to the coming season.
This comes as cotton farmers have been complaining over non-payment of their dues from the previous season and on subsidies from this season with others threatening to switch to other crops such as small grains and tobacco.
Cotton Producers and Markets Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Stewart Mubonderi said farmers were not happy with the delays and some were not carrying out land preparations. The number of growers who had registered for the next season had declined.
“Some farmers have not received their payments from the previous season. This season we are also yet to receive the subsidies. We are will continue engaging authorities until the issue of payments has been addressed. Abandoning cotton production is not good for both farmers and the sector,” he said.
Mr Mubonderi urged farmers to continue registering for the Cotton Presidential Inputs Scheme and continue with Pfumvudza land preparations.
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos yesterday said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had released $500 million last week towards the outstanding balance owed to our cotton farmers.
“This amount accounts for over 20 percent of what is owed and we expect farmers to start receiving this soon. There are promises from the Ministry to release the remaining balance in the shortest time. It is important that we understand that it is the Government’s priority to pay the balance in order to ensure a smooth transition from the 2020/2021 season to the 2021/2022 season,” he said.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said the window for growing cotton was still open, but fast closing and encouraged farmers to take advantage of the fact that cotton is part of our Pfumvudza programme meaning that inputs will be distributed free of charge.
“We reviewed our targets upwards for cotton to 250 000 hectares which translates to 520 000 farming households (up from 400,000 households last season) with a projected output of 250 000 tonnes and given that it is an international commodity that can be grown in very harsh environments, farmers are assured that the returns will be very profitable, as long as good agronomic practices are followed.
“I remain extremely confident that our farmers will look beyond this and take advantage of the programme. As a Ministry our priority is to uplift the livelihoods of each and every household with no one being left behind,” he said.