Cotton growers have appealed to Government to speed up the payment of last season’s outstanding dues amounting to $1,5 billion, before the next marketing season.
This comes as Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry has assured cotton growers that the settlement of outstanding payments was its top priority.
Already, there are indications that the process of payment has reached an advanced stage and the money would be released to farmers soon.
Cotton growers are complaining that the payment has taken long and affected their operations.
The farmers plan to meet this week to deliberate on the issue, adding that while last season’s producer price of $56 per kg was attractive, they were disappointed that Cottco has taken far too long to settle outstanding payments.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister, Vangelis Haritatos, yesterday said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had assured them that payments would be made soon.
“The issue of Government subsidy to cotton farmers has been escalated to our ministry as well as the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. We are confident that the outstanding balance will be paid soon as it has been a priority for the Government to do so.
“As you know, cotton production is on the increase over the past few years and we have some very exciting developments in the transformation of Cottco to ensure that this trend continues. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had assured us any day now since it was a priority,” he said.
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi yesterday said they were going to meet as cotton growers to map the way forward and were considering approaching higher authorities for intervention.
“We are disappointed as farmers. Authorities assured us that they were aware of our plight but the payment is taking long. We are going to meet as an executive so we can approach higher authorities. We are afraid we may get to another marketing season before we get our money,” he said.
Mr Mubonderi said the newly announced price of US$1,20 was viable but it also meant an increase in the Government subsidy if the price of the commodity is suppressed on the international market.
“The price has increased from $53,94 per kg to $86 per kg. This requires a subsidy and it is a pre-planting price. We hope they are ready to raise the money,” he said.