Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
About 80 000 tonnes of cotton are expected on the market this season as the selling season progresses. Merchants have started buying cotton at the common collection points with prices averaging 36 cents per kilogramme.
According to the latest Zimbabwe Farmers Union weekly market guide, the 2016 farmers are still negotiating with buyers on prices.
“The 2016 cotton marketing season is currently in progress. Total production for the 2015 /2016 season is estimated at between 70 000 and 80 000 tonnes.
“In terms of prices for the commodity, Cotton Ginners Association (CGA) members are paying an advance payment of 36 cents and Cottco is paying 35 cents,” reads the market guide.
ZFU said companies such as Alliance, Sino Zim, ETG, Grafax, China Africa Cotton Ginners Association are under the CGA.
“The price continues to be negotiated between farmers and ginners and farmers are being paid according to the grade of their cotton seed, hence the price adjustments will be paid after grading,” said ZFU.
Farmers are complaining over the cotton producer prices, which they said were not viable. The farmers said some of the contractors did not give adequate inputs.
Bindura farmer Mr Batsirayi Musanhu said farmers had lost trust in ginners’ paying adjustments.
“We expected higher prices than the prices we are getting. The buyers said they will give us an adjustment at the end after the crop would have been graded.
“Last season the same thing happened. We were promised adjustments, but we never got anything. I hope buyers will be fair to pay firm prices that will enable farmers to go back to the land,” he said.
Cotton production has declined over the past years due to viability challenges.
Contractors complained of side marketing while farmers said buyers were offering low prices.
Government had to intervene last year by assisting cotton growers with inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
The cotton inputs were given for free.
The funding will continue for three years to boost the cotton industry and revive the textile industry.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said cotton is important as a cash crop, forex earner and employment creator.
“Government would want to see a full development of the cotton sector. This is why farmers were given a full package unlike other cotton farmers that distribute inadequate fertilisers resulting in low yields.
Government has already set a target of 400 000 hectares of cotton for the coming season.
Last season Government supported 381 000 households with cotton inputs.
Government is emphasising on quality and quantity of the crop and encouraged extension officers to assist farmers to achieve the desired yields