Home » Governance » Union Vows Govt Court Fight Over Cotton Prices

THE war over cotton prices continues with a union representing farmers vowing to take government to court after it was barred from negotiating prices on behalf of producers.

A standoff continues between buyers and farmers who are demanding higher prices citing increased production costs with some threatening to burn their crop instead of sell at prices currently on offer.

The government recently ordered that individual farmers and ginners should negotiate prices according to the quality of the crop.

But the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) said it was surprised by the decision as it had become the norm for farmers and ginners to negotiate and agree a uniform producer price for respective grades seasonally.

ZCFU President Wonder Chabikwa said the union would challenge the government order at the High Court.

“In 2011 an application was made to the Competition and Tariffs Commission to bar farmers’ organisations from negotiating prices on behalf of the farmers accusing us (unions) of just setting up prices instead of competing on the market,” he said.

“This year we have a bit of a technicality which is not enabling us to negotiate with cotton ginners on behalf of farmers and we are preparing papers for an urgent court application, as we believe that farmers should be represented by us.”

He said while the dispute was pending before the courts, farmers should not sell their cotton below last year’s prices.

“Last year’s producer price was just at 0.35c per kilogram and we hope that his year it should go up to 80c or $1,” he said.

The government has ordered that Grade A cotton should at least fetch 84 cents, a big jump from about 40 cents last year. Grade B will sell for 81 cents while Grade C has been set at 79 cents.

However, the Cotton Ginners Association is said to be offering between 29c-40c a kilogram.

Agriculture Joseph Made is also discouraging farmers from selling their crop at prices below the cost of production.

Poor prices have seen farmers shun the “white gold” over the past few years with most opting for tobacco and maize which offer better returns.

This year only 300,000 hectares were planted, down from 353,000 in the previous.

Source : New Zimbabwe