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Cotton farmers cry foul over Admarc nonpayment

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Priscilla Mateyu

Cotton farmers in Ntcheu, Balaka and Machinga districts are in despair as there seemingly no headway in getting payment for their crop from state-run grain trader, Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).

Admarc bought cotton from the farmers on credit three months ago, promising to pay after a week.

Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) vice chairperson, Smart Gunda, said the farmers are now seeking the court’s intervention.

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“Currently many of the farmers are facing hunger because they allocated much of their field to cotton production and do not have enough maize, the idea was to buy maize after selling the cotton.

“We have waited enough and we have organised a meeting where we want to mobilise ourselves to identify a lawyer who would help us take the issue to court,” Gunda said.

Admarc spokesperson, Agness Chikoko Ndovi, maintained that the parastatal has not received money for procurement of cotton from the government, hence the delay in settling the dues.

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Spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture, Priscilla Mateyu, said currently, the ministry is facilitating an approval for Admarc to get financing.

She added that the issue is also being discussed with all relevant stakeholders.

Commenting on the development, agriculture expert, Leonard Chimwaza, said expectations to see the sector improving seem to now hit a snag.

“Government had a vision of increasing production of cotton from 15,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes through the K1 billion fund which was channelled towards cotton. With the current market failure, will the fund be sustained?” Chimwaza wondered.

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