By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT will pay farmers owed by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe their outstanding dues before the start of the 2021 cotton marketing season.
The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator, Honourable Justice Mayor Wadyajena, this Thursday.
Representatives of the company indicated that they do not have the capacity to pay the one point five (1.5) billion Zimbabwe dollars they owe farmers for the 2020 cropping season.
“We owe farmers 1.5 billion dollars and we do not have the capacity to pay them,’ said Sifelani Jabangwe, Cottco board chairperson
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr John Bhasera then confirmed the latest government intervention.
“We have engaged treasury and other stakeholders on the matter and I can assure you that we will pay the debt that COTTCO owes to farmers before end of May,” said Dr John Bhasera, the permanent secretary-lands, Agriculture, fisheries, water and rural resettlement.
The formulation of the Statutory Instrument 96 of 2021 which empowers the Grain Marketing Board- GMB to regulate and control the sale of cotton was also debated.
Committee members questioned the implementation matrix of the statutory instrument in relation to the appointment of an agent who will buy cotton and the contracting methodology.
Representatives of the Grain Marketing Board, Cottco and Agricultural Marketing Authority failed to agree on the implementation modalities amid indications that the Statutory Instrument states that the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement will appoint the agents to buy cotton for the season.
Honourable Wadyajena questioned the clause saying the Statutory Instrument must be clear that the agent is Cottco considering that the only cotton out there is under the Presidential Input Scheme hence no one is mandated to buy that crop except Cottco.
“Your Statutory Instrument is vague. Farmers accessed inputs under the Presidential free Input Scheme and that lack of clarity worries us as legislators. At the moment the price of cotton will be announced but GMB is yet to sign an agreement with Cottco as the buying agent, how is that going to be implemented? As it stands, Cottco has no role to play in the buying of cotton,” he said.