Lawmakers have voiced concern over the continued delay of payment to cotton farmers who delivered their produce last season.
Cotton planting season begins from October to January while the harvesting and marketing season begins from May to September. Farmers have not been paid since last marketing season and may have failed to plant the white gold.
Farmers have endured late payments that are dispersed in local currency which is negatively affected by inflation and exchange rate volatility.
Speaking in parliament last week Kambuzuma legislator Willias Madzimure asked the Minister Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement about governments plans on paying cotton farmers.
“Cotton farmers have not yet been paid for the cotton they sold last season.
“What is government doing to help farmers to continue growing cotton so as to support the cotton industry because farmers have not received their money and as a result, some are failing to pay school fees for their children?” asked Madzimure.
Furthermore, Hon Madzimure sort clarification on the forms of payment availed to farmers.
“Can the Minister explain the other alternative arrangement that the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe is using to pay farmers?
“The issue of giving farmers groceries and sometimes equipment to use in the fields does not augur well for farmers.
“When farmers deliver produce, they are expecting to get their money in cash so that they will then decide on their own what they want to use the money for, instead of them being asked to go to a shop and pick up groceries or implements,” he said.
Acting leader of government business in the National Assembly, Felix Mhona assured lawmakers that the government was working to ensure farmers are paid on time.
Response on use of groceries as payment
In regard to paying farmers with groceries Mhona said, “I think the time when that was happening was more of a voluntary program where one would want to opt to get groceries. Of late, this is not happening.
“Where people were actually getting groceries in terms of payment, going forward and as it is now, the Government is going to pay farmers their hard-earned money and not in the form of goods.
The delayed payment of cotton farmers has negatively affected their day to day lives as some have failed; to pay school fees for their children, plant during the farming season and put food on the table.