The Statutory Instrument (SI) published this year does not have room for self sponsorship when it comes to cotton farming. Every cotton farmer has to be contracted.
Contract farming sounds enticing because the farmer is told he/she will get free inputs but it’s not free but a loan.
You repay the inputs when you deliver the cotton. However, the loan comes with unfair conditions to the farmer.
The farmer is not allowed to sell his cotton to any other buyer besides the one who gave him the loan. Here comes the problem; it is the buyer who decides on the cotton price.
The farmer does not have a voice in deciding the cotton price. Secondly, the farmer does not have recourse even if the cotton buyer decides not to pay him.
The farmer cannot reclaim his harvest from the buyer in the event that the loan giver decides not to pay him for cotton like what Cottco is doing now.
Cottco is taking cotton from farmers without paying the farmers’ crops. Cottco did not pay cotton farmers last year and this year it’s the same thing. This year Cottco has paid only 10 USD per 200kg bale of cotton. Can you imagine?
Cotton farming has enslaved Gokwe farmers. They are working for Cottco for free while Cottco managers are counting profits every year and getting promotions for “working very hard” while our parents are wallowing in poverty as if they are not working.
Cottco is taking the advantage of a contract farming Statutory Instrument that was designed to protect the merchant and impoverish the farmer.
Contract farming is evil, it is exploitative and enriches one who hasn’t worked, it is pure robbery by the government and other cotton merchants.
The solution is there. If I was a policymaker, I would make sure that there are three players when it comes to cotton farming and marketing; (1) The cotton farming funder or financier (2) The cotton farmer and (3) The cotton buyer.
The law must clearly stipulate that the cotton buyer must not loan anything to the farmer. The law must also stipulate that the cotton buyer must deduct the Cotton financier’s funds first and surrender such funds to the financier before paying the farmer.
The farmer must be left free to sell his crop to any cotton buyer who offers more money and one who pays on time.
Our MP Karikoga instead of praising Cottco must be mobilising his counterparts from other Gokwe constituencies to rally behind the above-outlined cotton regulations and influence the Minister of Agriculture to enact such a good law.
Etiwel Mutero is an archivist and a political commentator.+263773614293 email@example.com