Cottco ropes in police to fight cotton side marketing

 

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

EXACTLY two weeks into the 2024 cotton marketing season, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) has enlisted the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in the fight to curb seed cotton side marketing.

Side marketing is a form of contract default where contracted farmers sell their cotton to third parties in breach of the contractual agreement, which states that seed cotton shall only be sold to or bought by the contractor who provided inputs to farmers.

This comes on the backdrop of revelations by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) that it had issued buying licences to five registered contractors only. Cottco, Southern Cotton Company, Alliance Ginneries, AgriValue Chain and ZCC are the only contractors currently buying cotton out of the eight that are registered.

Cottco and ZRP on Thursday released a joint press statement on the marketing of seed cotton produced under the Presidential Inputs Scheme (PIS).

“Cottco and ZRP are working together to secure seed cotton produced from the inputs disbursed under the PIS. Farmers who benefitted from this programme are requested to deliver their produce to Cottco and shun side marketing,” said the statement.

The statement said Cottco was the official off-taker of all the seed cotton produced under PIS.

“The broader commitment by Government in rolling out this programme is to ensure sustenance, employment creation, rural development and bolstering of the cotton value chain in line with the National Development Strategy 1 and vision 2030.

“This season, Cottco is making immediate payments for seed cotton delivered at common buying points (CBP). Farmers are strongly encouraged to secure their funds and minimise the risks of robberies, as well as potential loss of funds,” added the statement.

Farmers received inputs such as seeds, chemicals, fertilisers, tillage and agronomy support at no cost under the PIS.

“The ZRP will ensure that the law takes its course on anyone found to be side-marketing seed cotton produced through the PIS. In this regard, any buyer who will try to influence farmers to engage in side marketing activities will also be brought to book,” warned the statement.

The warning is supported by Statutory Instrument (SI) 149 of 2009 [Agricultural Marketing Authority (Seed Cotton and Seed Cotton Products) Regulations] that says contract seed cotton shall not be purchased by any person other than the contractor to whom the grower concerned is contracted.

“A contractor or buyer shall not purchase seed cotton in seed cotton packs other than his or her own seed cotton packs. A contracted grower shall not sell seed cotton in seed cotton packs other than those belonging to the contractor to whom the grower is contracted,” reads SI 149.

Statutory Instrument 63 of 2011 also adds that growers and contractors shall by mutual agreement enter into a volume-based contract which shall be binding, that is, contract seed cotton shall not be purchased by any person other than the contractor to whom the grower concerned is contracted.

“No grower or buyer shall sell or buy seed cotton outside a committee approved common buying point. A grower shall be vetted for registration and contractual obligations by the Agricultural Marketing Authority or its inspectors,” disclosed the SI.

SI 63 also states that a buyer or contractor shall only purchase seed cotton from a registered grower and that a grower shall sell free seed cotton to any buyer as certified by the Cotton Marketing Technical Committee (Committee) in terms of these regulations.

“Any buyer who purchases contracted seed cotton shall compensate the aggrieved contractor with an equivalent volume and quality of such seed cotton and the aggrieved contractor would be compensated at the price determined by the Committee,” reads SI 63.

 

 

 

 

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