Some of the confiscated product had already been taken into Zimbabwe, while the rest was seized in the border districts of Machaze and Mossurize, the head of the Manica Agricultural Services, Zacarias Muzaja, told the paper.
The farmers were trying to take their cotton into Zimbabwe, because they know they can obtain a better price there than is paid by the cotton companies operating in Mozambique to whom they are obliged to sell their crop.
The minimum producer price for cotton is 11.75 meticais (about 39 US cents) per kilo, agreed in tripartite discussions in April between the Mozambican government, associations of peasant farmers who grow cotton, and the concessionary companies that buy the crop.
This was an increase of 4.4 per cent on the 2013 price, whereas the Mozambican Forum of Cotton Producers had proposed an increase of 7.1 per cent.
Muzaja said the authorities could not allow Mozambican cotton to be smuggled into Zimbabwe because of the government’s agreements with the cotton companies. There are two companies with the right to buy raw cotton from farmers in Manica – the company China Africa, operating in Macossa, Manica, Sussundenga and Gondola districts, and OLAM, which buys up the cotton produced in Mozzurize, Machaze, Tambara, Guro and Barue.
The companies provide cotton seeds and other inputs to the farmers, and then have the exclusive right to buy their cotton. The cotton should then be processed in Mozambique prior to export – but smuggling the crop into neighbouring countries threatens these arrangements.
Muzaja claimed the smuggling was now under control, and he believed this year’s target of harvesting and marketing 9,109 tonnes of cotton in the province had not been compromised. This figure is a five per cent increase on the amount of cotton marketed in Manica in 2013.
“We are monitoring the production zones”, said Muzaja, “and we are explaining to the producers the impact that smuggling could have on Mozambique. We certainly hope that this will not happen again”.Post published in: Africa News