Stakeholders in cotton industry seek audience with Min Masuka
Tariro Stacey Gatsi
THE Cotton Producers and Marketers Association is lobbying Government to urgently intervene and clarify the modalities to be used in distributing cotton inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme following the Grain Marketing Board’s (GMB) taking over of Cottco duties, which they say has left farmers confused on the way forward.
Government recently announced GMB’s taking over of the input distribution process from Cottco in a move meant to enhance stability and proficiency in the industry, as the country moves to boost production of the white gold.
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairperson Mr Stewart Mubonderi yesterday told The Herald that his association wanted to meet Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka urgently and request him to reverse the decision at least for this season to allow the inputs distribution process to flow.
“We are faced with a very difficult situation as a country in which less than 15 percent of the cotton inputs have been distributed yet weather forecasts have since indicated that there will be an El Nino this season that requires us to make the most of any amount of rains that falls. At the moment there are rains falling in different parts of the country but farmers are not capacitated to start planting.
“There are some places in areas like Mount Darwin, Mukumbura, Chireya and Chitekete in Gokwe, Chinyamukwakwa and Mabeye in Muzarabani and Chiredzi, for instance, that are not accessible once the season finally sets in, which means they will not be able to plant cotton if they do not get inputs now. We may be setting ourselves up for a disastrous season if the inputs are not distributed in the next two weeks latest,” said Mr Mubonderi.
He added that Cottco had cultivated a good working relationship with Agritex officials over the years, which made it easy for business to flow. This, he said, would need time to happen if GMB was paired with the extension officers, which would see production suffering.
“At the moment nobody clearly knows the role GMB and Cottco will be playing especially on the backdrop of both parastatals owning the same farmers some payments for either maize or cotton or both. We need Government to clarify that one and tell farmers where they should go to claim what they are owed,” a visibly annoyed Mubonderi said.
National treasurer for the Cotton Producers and Marketers Association Mr Demusochi Mazarura added his voice saying Agritex, GMB and ward councillors had distributed less than 15 percent of the inputs but were failing to identify the farmers they are expected to work with. They do not have any paperwork on farmers’ details and the quantity of inputs they need for the season, said Mr Mazarura.
“Although Government’s decision to rope in GMB is good, it left farmers shocked and confused because it came as a surprise without warning,” said Mr Mazarura.
Cotton Council of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Engineer Chris Murove said the distribution of cotton inputs had not been going on well due to the recent changes that saw GMB replacing Cottco as the distributing agent.
“Many farmers are confused and still prefer working with Cottco, which had set up structures they are now familiar with,” added Murove.