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October 10, 2010

Chinese company subcontracts 180 000 Zimbabwean cotton farmers

Sino-Zim Development Company has registered 180 000 cotton farmers in Zimbabwefor contract growing and acquired 40 000 tonnes of fertilisers and 6 000 tonnes of seed ahead of the 2010/11 farming season.

The firm is targeting to contract over 300 000 cotton farmers this farming season.

Sino-Zim operations manager Mr Tanga Matema said the organisation had mobilised enough inputs to cover 130 000 hectares of land so far.

"Our initial target was 200 000 hectares countrywide. Due to a few problems, we have managed 130 000 hectarage at the moment, but we still hope to reach our target. We have registered farmers from such districts as Chiredzi, Gokwe, Mt Darwin, Rushinga and Mhangura," he said.

Meanwhile, Sino-Zim area manager for Raffingora Mr Lilford Enderani said he had registered 1 500 farmers in his area, 500 less than his target of 2 000.

"We are contracting farmers with hectarages starting from as little as five. We give them 150 kilogrammes of fertiliser and 20 kilogrammes of seed for every hectare the farmer intends to crop. This is besides the chemicals we also give and the agronomic services that we intend to extend to the farmers too. Large-scale farmers will also receive diesel to power their machinery," he said.

Mr Enderani said farmers would clear their debts at the end of the season after marketing their crops, but stressed that they would not victimise farmers for failing to meet their end of the bargain in the event of a bad season.

"In fact, we are flexible and will give a grace period in which we will try to work out a method of payment that will enable the farmer to survive and complete payments later.

"What we guarantee at the moment is that we will be offering good prices just like we did this past season so farmers contracted to us can bring their crop to us and we debit our dues leaving them with enough to go back and finance their operations. We do not export the cotton we buy, but intend to process it locally so we have no shipment costs, hence our capacity to pay good prices," he said.

Mr Enderani challenged farmers to desist from entering into multiple contracts as this had in the past left many farmers unable to honour their obligations thereby attracting legal action.

The last cotton-marketing season was fraught with price wars between merchants while farmers withheld their crop or even side marketed in protest of the poor prices.

Sino-Zim is a product of Zimbabwe-China co-operation and arrangements for contract farming as the Asian giant steps up efforts to assist the country’s agrarian reforms.

China has also extended financial support to Zimbabwe's agricultural sector for the purchase of inputs and machinery.

The Herald

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