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Cotton farmers protest government minimum price

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Lobin Lowe

Cotton farmers have vowed not to sell their cotton at the government set minimum price of K320 per kilogramme (kg) until the price has been revised.

Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) President Dickson Gundani said Monday that farmers wanted the price to be pegged at between K400 and K450 per kg.

Gundani said they would not meet production costs if they sold their cotton at K320 per kg.

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“We are not happy with the price and we cannot sell our cotton at that price, considering labour costs and gross margin. I have booked an appointment with the Minister of Agriculture to tell him that we do not accept the price,” he said.

The Cofa President said farmers were being discouraged from selling their produce until the issue of price was resolved.

“I am informing all farmers not to sell their cotton until we meet the minister or, in case we do not agree on anything, President Lazarus Chakwera.

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“As I am speaking, there is more cotton produced during the 2019/20 growing season that farmers are yet to sell because they were disappointed with low prices,” Gundani said.

Last year, cotton was being sold at K389 per kg but some buyers were buying it at as low as K300.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said he wanted to consult on the issue before he could come back to us.

On Thursday last week, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe announced 2020/21 agricultural season farm gate prices when he indicated that the minimum price for cotton would be K320 per kg.

Apart from cotton, shelled groundnuts’ price per kg is K480, polished rice is fetching K600 per kg, Soya beans’ per kg price is K320, pure beans’ cost is K510 per kg, paprika is going at K830 per kg while chillies price has been set at K770 per kg.

Lowe said the prices had been reached after consulting stakeholders, adding that only smallholder enterprises would be allowed to buy farm produce from farmers.

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