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Cotton growers say ginners manipulate industry

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Some local cotton traders and farmers have alleged that ginners are manipulating the industry and have since asked the government to intervene.

Most of those interviewed also allege top officials in the Ministry of Agriculture know the problem but have decided to feign ignorance.

Leader of local Cotton Traders Tembo Khismisi told The Daily Times that the fact that ginners were also buying cotton from farmers and administering seed and credit facilities, was not a good ingredient in the industry.

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“It is a fact that the ginners are manipulating the industry and using other stakeholders within our industry. The ginners connive to fix prices in a form of cartel, which makes farmers not gain more from cotton sales,” he said.

Khismisi said his association and farmers have been trying to meet top government officials to intervene.

He said the opinion of the traders and the bulk of the farmers was that ginners should stick to their core business of ginning and not subject the industry to unfair competition practices.

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“It is unfair that ginners always complain that the cotton industry was not being profitable, yet they continued to purchase posh vehicles and other personal assets. It would be appropriate if the ginners were restricted to their business of ginning and leave out buying to traders and farming to growers,” said Khisimisi.

Some farmers interviewed separately around Ngabu and other parts of Chikwawa concurred that it was so disappointing that the ginners are dominating in the decision making process in the cotton industry, at the expense of the grower.

Adam Guta, a local cotton grower at Ngabu in Chikwawa echoed the sentiments, saying prices in the cotton industry do not match what farmers invest.

Chairperson of cotton ginners’ association refused to comment and referred The Daily Times to the Cotton Council of Malawi whose chairperson Patrick Khembo was surprised by the allegations.

“From time immemorial, ginners have taken a central part in buying and sourcing cotton in Malawi. Are they advocating for change of laws and regulations? This is surprising,” he said.

But Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza said in an interview that since the issue was an allegation, he could not comment on it.

“It would be prudent for the aggrieved to contact the ministry first and before talking to the media and as a ministry we can convene a roundtable discussion to map the way forward until we resolve whatever problems they allege. We cannot be hearing these things from the media, no,” he said.

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