Story by Tafara Chikumira
THE Government has crafted a raft of measures meant to deal with the recurring problem of side marketing in the cotton sector with companies and farmers involved in the practice set to be blacklisted while officials will be blacklisted.
The Government’s recent stance on the perennial problem of side marketing comes in the wake of an influx of new companies enticing farmers to engage in the illicit practice.
Authorities have thus sprung to action with a view to ensuring all the produce derived from government support benefits the country.
“I must say we have heard this issue of side marketing for a very long time now with little or no remedy in sight. We now have eyes everywhere where we are saying those companies and farmers found wanting will be removed from government-sponsored programmes while legal recourse will be sought,” said Mr Clever Isaya, the CEO of the Agriculture Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe.
“To incentivise our farmers, we have also increased the US Dollar retention component from 75 cents to 85 cents per dollar. We hope this will also increase appetite for cotton growing and ultimately deal with the side marketing scourge.”
“I am happy to announce that we have moved in the right direction on the issue of value addition. The government has approved our industrialisation plan where processing plants will be established here in Gokwe. The funding is now there and we are just about to start the work. We will be creating employment in this area in the process,” said Mr Sifelani Jabangwe, COTTCO board chairperson.
With COTTCO anticipating 250 000 metric tonnes of cotton this farming season up from 46 000 tonnes last year, farmers attribute the success to the various government intervention measures.
Most of the cotton crop has reached the balling stage with harvesting expected to start at the beginning of next month.
COTTCO has been losing an average of 10 percent of the white gold to side marketing activities each season.