Farmers demand better prices, as cotton picking begins Cotton

Monalisa Chikwengo

PICKING of the early planted cotton has started in the country’s hot regions with farmers calling on Cottco to pay the grade differential prices from last season, which they have not yet received.

Cottco has since indicated that it will not be doing so arguing that there were no grade differentials in last year’s price announcement. The Government has set the 2022/23 pre-season cotton grade differential prices at US$0, 40 for grade D, US$0, 41 for grade C, US$0, 43 for grade B and US$0, 46 per kilogrammes for grade A in a move meant to encourage production of a high quality crop.

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) has also urged merchants to pay growers grade differential prices for seed cotton deliveries after grading seed cotton by November 30 every in line with the requirements of Statutory Instrument 188 of 2022, Section 10(f). What farmers will get for the price differential, will be at the discretion of the contractor.

Last season’s cotton payments were partially paid in foreign currency at US$0, 30 per kilogramme and $32, 50 for local currency. Grade differential prices were not included in last season’s pricing package.

The issue of grade differential prices came to the fore when stakeholders attending last year’s World Cotton Day raised concern over the low lint quality farmers were producing, which they blamed on lack of motivation to produce competitively. They appealed to the Government to ensure farmers received the grade differential prices starting this season.

Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Steward Mubonderi yesterday confirmed that cotton picking had started while giving an update on preparations for the upcoming marketing season.

“Farmers in Checheche, Gokwe Nembudziya, Makonde, Muzarabani, Chiredzi, Dande Valley, Mount Darwin and Rushinga have started picking their crop. Three hundred bales have already been delivered to one common buying point (CBP) ready for marketing,” said Mr Mubonderi.

Mr Mubonderi also revealed that farmers wanted Cottco to pay them for grades C, B and A seed cotton from last year as was the practice in the past.

“The Government initiated a grade-based system this marketing season, which is a welcome development. In the past we were given payments by end of November for the different grades we would have achieved.

“It is this money that we want Cottco to pay first before we sell this year’s crop,” continued Mr Mubonderi.

The farmers want Cottco and private contractors to pay them at the buying points before taking the seed cotton.

He revealed that there were some farmers from last year who had not yet been paid and these ought to be paid first before trade started for this marketing season.

Zimbabwe Integrated Commercial Farmers Union (ZICFU) president Mrs Mayiwepi Jiti added that cotton harvesting had started but would be at peak in July and August in the cold areas.

Mrs Jiti said most of the cotton crop was in good condition, although some had been damaged by rainstorms while it was still blooming. Farmers produced 56 million kilogrammes of seed cotton in the 2021/22 season.

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