The Cotton Council of Zimbabwe (CCOZ) has applauded the Government for facilitating release of $500 million to settle outstanding payments for last season.
Cottco had been owing farmers $2 billion in outstanding payments.
Interventions by farmer organisations saw Treasury releasing $500 million towards the settlement of the outstanding payments.
Treasury also promised to release $500 million every week for cotton payments.
CCOZ president, Mr Paul Mangwana, expressed gratitude to Government for releasing the money to settle the outstanding cotton payments.
“It is with satisfaction that CCOZ has noted the recent release of a tranche of $500 million by Government to Cottco for the purpose of clearing part of the outstanding amounts owed to cotton farmers,” he said.
“On behalf of cotton farmers, some of whom have already started receiving these funds from Cottco, CCOZ would like to extend its appreciation to His Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa and the Government of Zimbabwe for intervening on behalf of cotton farmers to ensure that payment for their dues continues.”
Mr Mangwana applauded Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, for acting upon the concerns raised to him by cotton farmers through the CCOZ.
“We extend appreciation to Cottco for speedy disbursements of the funds, as we have already started getting positive feedback from relieved farmers who have started getting the funds into their bank accounts and phone wallets,” he said.
“We would like to urge our cotton farmers to re-double and continue their efforts to maximise their yields by adhering to the best practice of cotton growing as advised by their Agritex and contractor agronomists.
“Good times lie ahead as the industry is now seriously looking at ways and means of maximising cotton farmer returns through the Pfumvudza conservation tillage practices and the meaningful participation of the cotton farmer in the downstream value chain.”
Cotton is a strategic crop that is interwoven into the rural economy and indeed, the national economy, as it is a cash crop for farmers, particularly those in drought-prone areas.
The crop provides lint for downstream textile industries and generates export earnings.
Cotton seed is also important in terms of animal feeds and edible oil for human consumption.
“Government has done a tremendous job in the last couple of years by supporting this critical sector through the provision of subsidies in the form of free inputs to the smallholder farmers through the Presidential Cotton Input Scheme and a significantly subsidised seed cotton price of US$0,85c in the 2021 buying season,” said Mr Mangwana.
Mr Robert Mugagi of Gudubu Village in Mhangura under Makonde district, said: “The pay-outs have come as a relief to farmers who were failing to make ends meet.
“I managed to pay fees, buy uniforms and stationery while at the same time met farming expenses.”
Gogo Emilia Rwodzi from the same village could not hide her joy when she received notification of the money.
She is among other cotton farmers in the area who have been affected by poor network reception, making it difficult for them to receive bank notifications.
“I hadn’t received the notification message as my phone is down and we have bad network reception. The deposit came at an opportune time as I was faced with school fees expenses for my grandchildren,” said the 80-year-old, who also lamented three-tier pricing system.
Mr Nacho Mupukuta from Kasimure under Hurungwe district, showered praises on President Mnangagwa and the Second Republic.
“President Mnangagwa is a people-centred leader who is doing great for us farmers. There are those who want to discredit these huge strides towards socio-economic development.
“We are receiving inputs for free to support our agricultural activities,” said Mr Mupukuta, who co-ordinates over 100 cotton farmers in the same area.
Another cotton farmer, Mr Godwin Mboora Chikoora, who received over $80 000, said he has since purchased farming inputs and property from his pay-out.
However, farmers have implored the Government to intervene and rein in retailers who they accused of ripping them off.
But significant challenges were encountered by cotton farmers in the past two seasons due to late payment for their contracted cotton by the main contractor, Cottco, and the CCOZ had to approach the Ministry of Agriculture for corrective action.
Production of cotton is aimed at transforming rural communities through the major cash crop and having huge benefits to the economy at large as a major source of cooking oil for local consumption and cotton fibre for export markets.
The intervention by Government on cotton production through the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme was meant to revive the sector, which was collapsing due to low prices offered by merchants and other problems related to inputs.
Most farmers in cotton growing areas had abandoned producing the crop after prices fell and merchants had reduced input packages citing side-marketing by farmers, further affecting production.
Source: The Herald