Local ginning company Alliance Ginneries on Tuesday failed to provide Parliament with evidence that it contracted farmers to grow cotton and yet it was on the ground buying the crop in the Gokwe area of the Midlands province.
The company was responding to accusations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture that it was side marketing cotton grown under the Presidential Input scheme, prejudicing state-owned company, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco). Under the Presidential Input scheme, farmers get free agricultural inputs and are supposed to sell their cotton seed to Cottco.
“The total number of farmers that we financed is 6 300 translating to 15 299 hectares of land put under cotton,” said Alliance Ginneries head of operations Peter Chapoterera before failing to produce the requisite paperwork to substantiate his claims.
Mr Chapoterera also failed to provide proof that the company gave farmers fertiliser to grow cotton.
“In other words, we cannot produce proof that we have given seed, we are actually a seed house, unless you want us to produce the distribution of the seed out to the farmer which we have done.
“In terms of chemicals, we have produced a document from the company that supplied chemicals for us he said.
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), mandated to license contractors, last week denied licensing Alliance Ginneries.
“At the time of submission, to your committee last week, we did not have the quota. It had not been made available to us by AMA because we had not, at that time, fulfilled certain Statutory obligations and we indicated so on our documents. AMA has since made available to us the quota of 865 metric tonnes which we are to buy in Gokwe South and Gokwe North,” said Mr Chapoterera.
Committee chair Justice Wadyajena said the company should, before the end of the week, furnish Parliament with proof that it was buying contracted cotton.
“Your figures on farmers and hectarage that you supported are not supported by AMA. When AMA appeared before us last week, they said you were not given a licence for buying the quota that you had applied for, simply because you did not fulfil the obligations or what they had requested you to do,” he said.
Mr Wadyajena also accused the company of fleecing the government through side marketing.
“Under the Presidential Input scheme, farmers get free inputs and they are supposed to sell their cotton seed to Cottco. But you as Alliance Ginneries and other partners are buying the same cotton seed from the farmers you did not support. What we want as a Committee is proof that you indeed supported the farmers,” he said.