Side Marketing Of Cotton Should Attract Jail Terms - Minister Masuka4 months ago
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka has called for stiffer penalties for individuals or companies engaged in the side marketing of cotton.
Speaking during the launch of the 2023 cotton marketing season in Mahuwe on Monday, Masuka said side marketing of cotton should be made a criminal offence so that those found guilty do not escape with a fine but are jailed.
Masuka said jailing side marketers will protect one of the country’s foreign currency earners and source of livelihood for many Zimbabweans. He said:
Last year, seven side marketing breaches were recorded with the culprits being fined over US$10 000.
In terms of deterrent measures, we must go beyond this and make side marketing a criminal offense.
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Jail is the only effective way to curb this practice.
My ministry, through the Agricultural Marketing Authority, continues to implement measures to curb side marketing.
These include the Memorandum of Agreement by all contractors for the establishment of cotton buying points, maintenance of good business practices and registers of each contractor at each buying point.
Side-marketing is when a contracted cotton grower sells his or her crop to a third party in breach of a legally binding contractual agreement that states that contracted cotton shall only be sold to or bought by the licensed contractor who provided inputs to such a grower.
In 2013, side marketing almost collapsed the cotton industry after private merchants stopped financing farmers due to poor debt recovery.
The following year (2014), output plunged to 28 000 tonnes, the lowest in nearly two decades.
The Government intervened by providing farmers with free inputs under the Presidential Free Inputs programme.
The Herald reported that almost 350 000 farmers were contracted to grow cotton under the Presidential Inputs Scheme last year.
250 000 hectares were put under cotton and 152 000 tonnes are expected this season.
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