|Gvt warns cotton ginners|
|Friday, 13 July 2012 07:25|
A CARTEL of cotton ginners accused of ripping off farmers through a rigid "good crop and poor price" risk being disbanded for defying a Government directive to submit information on their cost of production to ensure fair pricing of the white gold.
The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, accused all the ginners of not responding to the Government's request aimed at ensuring fairness in the pricing regime of cotton.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union and Zimbabwe Farmers' Union and Agritex have submitted envisaged cotton production costs which are almost tallying and the process to bring the rightful pricing regime was being hamstrung by the ginners' refusal. The ginners are arguing that such information was classified and were consulting with their principals outside the country.
"Except for four out of 14, others have refused to comply. They are playing a game. They think the Government and the farmers can be played around with. They should not regret when we crack the whip. They should not cry foul when drastic action is taken.
"The Government will remain resolute in its quest to ensure a fair pricing for cotton. When the worst comes to worst, we will not hesitate to eradicate the Cotton Ginners Association. We will repeal the Statutory Instrument giving rise to its formation because they are using it unfairly to extract value and impoverish that farmer. That Statutory Instrument is disadvantaging the farmers, and otherwise destroying the land reform. We do not want laws that promote cartels," said Dr Made.
The Cotton Ginners Association has been rapped for having a stranglehold over ginning companies, thereby negatively influencing firms to charge blanket prices which disadvantage farmers and must be reformed to allow individual companies to determine their own prices as a long term solution to challenges facing the sector.
The current model being used to fund cotton production and price formulation is crippling farmers' operations warranting serious reforms to end the CGA's monopoly.
"The ginners are unreasonable, not only to the farmer, but also to the same Government that allowed their formation and operation. They have the guts to tell my officers that they were not providing us that information in writing because it was confidential. I feel totally insulted by that. When Government requests any information, it is not for disclosure purposes," said Dr Made.
Cotton prices are ranging between US35c per kg and US42c, an improvement from between the US30c and US35c.
Farmers argue that the pricing regime does not give them a return of their investment.
They argued that the ever nose-diving price regime impacted them negatively and drowned them in serious debt.
Farmers are accusing the ginners and buyers of fleecing them.
"Cotton should be bought according to quality. Buyers should not manipulate prices. It is every farmer's right to withdraw their crop if they do not accept the offered price," said local farmer.
Ginners on the other hand said there is need to review each stage of the chain through increasing yields, the Government subsidy of farmers as well as restoring merchants' confidence in funding cotton production. The CGA has defended the Agricultural Marketing Authority over the recommended current cotton price.
CGA director-general, Mr Godfrey Buka, said the cotton prices were arrived at by taking three factors into consideration, viz. the cost of production for farmers, the cost of production for ginners and the likely international cotton prices when it is sold.
"The price paid to Zimbabwean farmers is largely influenced by the price at which Zimbabwean cotton is sold in world market,” he said.