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Cotton farmers lament low commodity prices

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Some cotton farmers feel betrayed after the government, through the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), resorted to buying the crop at K240 per kilogramme (kg) discarding the K389 per kg farm-gate price.

The cotton market, which has been characterised by quandary and disruptions, started on April 9 2020 with the minimum price for grade A cotton pegged at K389 per kg while the minimum price for grade B was K310 per kg.

In an interview, Karonga-based farmer Sarah Nkhonjera said the farmers were hoarding their crop expecting that prices would improve.

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“The government announced that we shall sell our cotton at a minimum of K389 per kg and those that sold their crop when the market had just opened sold at that price; but then, there were those disparities where Admarc had no money for buying the crop,” Nkhonjera said.

Agriculture commodities market analyst Leonard Chimwaza described the 2020 cotton season as the worst in history, saying the industry is at the verge of collapsing.

“There is need to establish a Price Stabilisation Fund which will help cushion farmers when prices tumble,” Chimwaza said.

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Admarc spokesperson Agness Ndovie confirmed that the parastatal has resumed procurement of cotton from farmers.

She, however, could not give details on price movement.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture Gracian Lungu said only Admarc would be best positioned to speak competently on the trends.

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