The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, one of the leading cotton companies in Manicaland province, has reportedly hired the services of debt collectors who are moving around villages grabbing property from defaulting farmers.
Affected farmers said their failure to settle their debts was due to poor yields offset by drought and poor prices being offered on the market.
“Our cotton was affected by drought and it was beyond our power and what they are now doing is unfair,” said Effort Mhlanga, a farmer from Checheche. Mhlanga added that most farmers got less than two bales against debts amounting to over $200 for a single person.
“On average, a bale sold for $80 and for the two you get something like $160. So all the money goes towards the repayment of the debt, leaving farmers with nothing to buy food for the family,” he added.
Another cotton farmer, Dorcas Murimbechi, said it had become risky to grow cotton because recurrent droughts dimmed the prospects of good harvests.
An Agricultural Extension Officer at Checheche, Aaron Mlambo, admitted that climate change had affected cotton production in Chipinge.
“The poor cotton yields coupled with low prices have affected almost all the farmers in Zimbabwe,” Mlambo noted.
No official comment could be obtained from COTTCO but an employee of the company, who refused to be named, confirmed that farmers’ properties were being attached.
Since the first quarter of the year, cotton farmers have been embroiled in a bitter dispute with authorities and buyers regarding the price of cotton. Current prices on offer are as little as 37c per kg, with the farmers insisting that they will hold onto their produce until a viable pricing regime is agreed.Post published in: Agriculture