AMA accused of fuelling cotton side marketing

Agriculture Reporter

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) has been criticised by some players in the cotton industry for fuelling side marketing through conniving with private buyers who buy the white gold from farmers who were sponsored by Cottco.

A source at Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) revealed to this publication that AMA’s data base is not in order and some private buyers were being allowed to buy cotton from farmers who were given inputs by the Government under the Presidential Input Support Scheme.

Side marketing takes place when parties to the contract violate the agreement either when a farmer sells to other merchants or when a company buys from farmers it has not contracted.

“It is unfortunate that AMA which is supposed to be the overall regulator of the production and marketing of cotton among other crops is conniving with private buyers, allowing them to buy cotton from farmers whom they never sponsored with inputs.

“Side marketing is rampant in Gokwe and Sanyati, areas where Cottco officials were once arrested after clashing with some private buyers who were buying cotton from farmers contracted by Cottco,” said the source.

Cotton Producers and Marketers Association has already raised a red flag over the side marketing issue, saying it was counterproductive and unfair to other contractors.

“As representatives of cotton farmers, we are concerned with side marketing which is creating confusion, conflict and despondency in the cotton industry. I call upon Government to urgently ensure proper enforcement of regulations which prohibits side marketing.

“Cotton farmers should desist from side marketing their crop to private buyers who never supported them with inputs. They should all deliver their cotton to Cottco, particularly those who benefitted from the Presidential Input Support Scheme and those who received inputs from Cottco,” said Cotton Producers and Marketers Association Chairman, Stewart Mubonderi.

In terms of Statutory Instrument 96 of 2021, cotton is a controlled product whose movement is restricted and must be delivered to designated contractors and any side marketing of contracted commodities attracts penalties.

Cottco has started paying ZWL$6 800 and US$10 per each delivered bale as advance payment for cotton delivered this marketing season and has promised that it will soon pay the ZWL$1.5 billion it owes to cotton farmers for cotton delivered last season.

Government pegged the cotton producer price for this marketing season at ZWL$85 per kilogramme which is far much better than the one offered by private buyers.

To date, 65 000MT of cotton has been delivered to Cottco.