Cotton farmers who benefitted under the Presidential Free Cotton Inputs Scheme in Muzarabani are appealing for the extension of the programme for at least three years.
The appeal by farmers follows a fact finding mission on the utilisation of the Presidential Free Cotton Inputs Scheme by cotton farmers in Muzarabani by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
The committee met with COTTCO officials before taking their visit to the ginning plant where it was told that they are six ginning factories countrywide which are under utilised.
The tour of communal farms under cotton brought the committee face to face with what farmers encounter under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
COTTCO Managing Director Mr Pious Manamike outlined the company’s vision regarding value addition of the crop.
He also noted that the Presidential Well Wishers Input Scheme was only for three years and it’s coming to an end, though there is need for a review of its success.
During the tour, issues relating to the operations of the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) came under the spotlight with Cde Wadyajena saying the organisation must explain to the nation why government funded cotton is finding its way into the hands of private companies.
Cotton used to be the mainstay of Muzarabani and several other districts across the country but this value was lost owing to unavailability of funding and poor prices on the international market.
Side marketing has become a major threat to the growth of the industry as COTTCO funds 90 percent of the crop but only buys 20 percent of the crop and this has been attributed to bungling by AMA.