Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Companies that enter into contract farming with cotton farmers must increase prices to avoid side-marketing, the farmers have said.
The farmers said the companies were offering poor prices at 30 cents per kilogramme, which encouraged them to look elsewhere for better returns.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Outreach Programme held on Tuesday in Mkwazi Village in Chiredzi North constituency, the farmers blamed cotton companies for taking advantage of their ignorance and offering them the poor prices.
Some of the farmers have since abandoned the crop because of the low returns. They called on Government to ensure that they were offered prices that would motivate them to grow the crop next season.
“We received inputs from some companies for free this season, but now the main issue is that we want a favourable price,” said one of the farmers, Mr Amon Nyamunda.
“It’s surprising that these companies just come to blame the farmer for promoting side marketing, but in real sense they are the ones who milked us severely. We want a dollar per kg not the 30 cents they are offering us.
“They have been speaking of poor international lint prices, but we know they produce cooking oil, stock feeds, margarine, soap and cotton seed.
“We must get payments according to the value of the products in the crop’s value chain.”
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association acting chairman Mr Steward Mubonderi said cotton farmers were getting a raw deal.
“Cotton farmers are not happy with the poor returns which they get from selling cotton,” he said. “We want to benefit from the crops value addition chain.”
Some farmers blamed the Cotton Producers and Marketers Association for failing to represent their interests for years, saying they were making personal deals with the cotton companies.