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Cotton growers are threatening to boycott harvesting their crop if ginners do not come up with a viable producer price.

The farmers said it was better to leave the crop to waste in the field than incurring huge costs during picking.

Most of the growers said they were expecting a minimum of 60 cents per kilogramme of seed cotton.

Chegutu farmer, Mr Jeremiah White said he was afraid of incurring losses if he hired labour to pick the crop.

“It is better for me to start harvesting maize,” he said.

“I am afraid I may hire labour to pick cotton and get a low producer price. This means I will have to source money elsewhere to pay the workers.”

Some farmers in the same area said they had grown the crop since they had no option, while others said they were trying their luck.

Mrs Enipher Zawe said a number of cotton growers had abandoned the crop for maize.

“I only grew a small portion of cotton just to try my luck,” she said.

“Few growers planted the crop, so prices may be high since there will be limited cotton supply on the market.”

Cotton pricing has dogged the sector for the past few years, resulting in some farmers side marketing their crop, while others abandoned growing it altogether.

Cotton production this season declined by 48 percent due to the low prices being offered by ginners.

Meanwhile, farmers and ginners have failed to agree on the cotton producer price as ginners are refusing to negotiate, citing an order issued by the Competition and Tariffs Commission (CTC) barring them from doing so. The CTC order stipulates that members of the Cotton Ginners Association (CGA) cease engaging in the restrictive practice of setting uniform prices of seed cotton bought from farmers and individually negotiate them with their contracted farmers.

Farmer’s organisations’ leaders are seeking to have the sections of the order amended to enable negotiations on behalf of farmers since it was established that the farmers were vulnerable and could not have the capacity to negotiate for higher prices.

Source : The Herald

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