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GOVERNMENT has issued a stern warning against unscrupulous cotton side marketers who are reportedly on the prowl to lure unsuspecting farmers with foreign currency while undercharging the value of the crop.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, made the remarks during a recent tour of Gokwe District where he urged cotton farmers to take their yield to the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe.

The minister said the Government has put in place a lucrative payment deal and modalities that incentivise farmers.

“We are aware of some unscrupulous companies who are bent on luring you to sell your yield to them. Such unscrupulous companies or individuals are being warned and if they are caught, they will face the full wrath of the law as they are bent on derailing the Government’s Vision 2030. Let them be warned,” said Dr Masuka.

He said the Government has undertaken to clear all the $1.5 billion owed to cotton farmers for last year’s deliveries following a directive by President Mnangagwa to release funding.

Dr Masuka said payment for the 2021 season had already commenced adding The Government was committed to pay farmers on time given the success of the Presidential Cotton Scheme.

“The Presidential Cotton Input Scheme was a huge success as it resulted in 28 000 metric tons of cotton last season. This season we are expecting 195 000 metric tons of the same product under the same scheme,” he said.

“We, therefore, have since started paying farmers through Cottco and we urge farmers to check with their relative depots.”

Dr Masuka said Gokwe was a priority with regards to payment of cotton yields as almost 50 percent was grown in that area.

“Almost 50 percent of cotton comes from Gokwe so it is important that it drives Vision 2030. President Mnangagwa therefore ensures that cotton farmers are happy as the nation seeks to attain an upper middle-income status by 2030,” he said. “

That is why the Government has regarded agriculture as an essential service as it plays a key role in vision 2030.

“This is a cotton growing area so it is cotton that should uplift the rural livelihoods. This can only happen if cotton is a viable enterprise and if businesses in cotton production are also viable. So, we are here to gather insights of how cotton can benefit its own people so that cotton farmers can be players instead of spectators,” said the minister.

Following the success of the Presidential Cotton Input Scheme, the Government now plans to introduce the Intwasa/Pfumvudza concept in the sector.

Dr Masuka said training of farmers in that regard should start as soon as possible so that farmers can make use of early rains. The Government has also introduced a raft of other agricultural support measures meant to turn around the fortunes of the economy.

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