Zimbabwe Cotton Farmers Being Paid In Groceries
Cotton farmers in the country are crying foul and have threatened to stop growing cotton following the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco)’s decision to pay them through groceries.
The farmers are alleging that the move was unilateral and that the company is forcing them to accept groceries that they do not want or need. The farmers are also accusing the company of reneging on an earlier agreement to pay them using United States dollars and local currency.
Noah Mashava, a young cotton farmer from Chinyamukwakwa, who spoke to The Manica Post said that he was shocked to receive a box of cooking oil as part of the payment for the cotton he delivered to Cottco.
“I wanted to get married this year after receiving my payment, but now I can’t. Where do I get the money to pay lobola? I appeal to the relevant authorities to address this issue urgently.
“I am contemplating switching to sesame because those who grew it are reaping good rewards,” said Mashava.
Another farmer Mrs Eness Khosa from Machona Village who has been growing cotton since 1998 called for a reasonable pricing system.
“Things have changed and I can no longer send my children to school. If we continue on this path, this will spell doom for the cotton industry. We just want a reasonable pricing regime.
“No one was consulted before they sent groceries as payment for my cotton. I was given salt as payment and I don’t need it.
“The receipt they gave me does not even indicate the number of kilogrammes of the cotton I delivered. They are short-changing us. My child has to go to college and this grocery payment is a serious setback,’’ she said.
However, Cottco managing director, Pious Manamike, said that the groceries were not being forced on anyone. He blamed the current situation on liquidity issues and said that farmers were free to wait for the money. He did not give a timeline, however, of when the farmers should expect to get the money.
“We have been paying some of the farmers using groceries. We are not reneging on the contracts we entered with the farmers, but we are giving them a choice of either receiving cash or groceries.
“We had committed to pay the farmers in United States dollars, cash in local currency or through mobile transfers, but due to the liquidity crunch, we have been forced to opt for the groceries.
“We are not forcing anyone to take the groceries. Farmers can either take the groceries or wait for cash,”
A horticulture expert and Arex officer, Mrs Mary Kafesu, urged farmers to study contracts carefully to avoid being duped by merchants.
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