By Tafara Chikumira
GOVERNMENT has approved the release of one comma five billion Zimbabwe dollars for the payment of cotton farmers owed by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, with some growers already beginning to receive their dues.
The long wait is over for cotton farmers as they smile all the way to the bank after government released the money for cotton payments.
Some farmers were owed money dating back to the previous season, but government says it saw it fit to clear the arrears to save production of the white gold.
“We have since released 620 million dollars which is currently being distributed to farmers across the country. The value for cotton production in this country can never be emphasized. It was never our intention to delay these payments but as you might be aware, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that some of the resources had to be diverted to deal with the disease,” said Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement.
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) Acting Managing Director Mr Pious Manamike explains the payment criteria the company has adopted.
“We are starting with those farmers who have bank accounts and those who are using mobile money. We will eventually deal with those farmers with no payment platforms. We however urge every farmer to at least have a bank account as this makes payments easy. We will make sure that farmers across the country get to be treated equally,” he said.
Cotton farmers are grateful to government for addressing their plight.
“It was really hard for us farmers before this payment. School fees needed to be paid and we were even failing to buy inputs,” said one cotton farmer.
“This is the best news in a very long time. I for one was contemplating quitting cotton production even though this has been part of our tradition since time immemorial. Now I can see that there is a future in the production of the crop,” said another
Cotton demand on the international market took a huge knock last year following the outbreak of COVID-19 but the opening of economic activities in countries such as China have seen demand slightly improving of late.
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