Chipata, Saturday (December 2, 2023)
Chipata City Mayor George Mwanza says cotton farmers under his jurisdiction are frustrated because of the Cotton Act of 2005 which promotes exploitation from ginners.
Mr. Mwanza said he learnt with sadness revelations by the Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ) estimates that cotton productivity in Zambia has since dropped by about 90% in the last ten years.
Speaking when Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ) Board and Management paid a courtesy call on him, the Chipata City Mayor said farmers are complaining about a drastic reduction in cotton production in Zambia in the last 10 years from approximately 275 000 metric tons per year to only 25 000 metric tons per year.
The Civic Leader has since urged Members of Parliament to fully support the amendment of the Cotton Amendment Bill once presented in Parliament by the Minister of Agriculture.
Mr. Mwanza paid special tribute to Solidaridad Southern Africa and Trust Africa for working with local civil society organizations in the Cotton Sector to advocate for inclusive dialogue, amplify voices and accelerate innovations.
“Chipata is predominantly an Agricultural City. Most farmers are young people and majority are women. The general expectation of the farmers is there must be serious improvement especially those involved in cotton on the fairness of pricing and general package. Farmers are complaining through my Office as their elected Civic Leader crying to me that we should be able to amplify their voice to call on Members of Parliament to consider amending the unfair provisions in the current Cotton Act of 2005 which does not favour farmers. Farmers believe that just as the fashion industry is growing, there must be corresponding benefit for their energy in growing Cotton. As Mayor, I wish to call upon MPs to support the amendment of the Cotton Act to bring about fairness in terms of the pricing and other contentious issues facing farmers,” he said.
Mr. Mwanza said farmers are complaining about the challenge of seed distribution, seed availability on open market and many issues that leave them with no voice and no legally binding platform for them to air their views.
“Farmers are, however, surprised that the ginners are not leaving the industry despite the over 90% drop. It only shows that the ginners are silently making supernormal profits while the farmers are left with little or nothing in return. Amending the unfair provisions in the Cotton Act would help to improve the Sector and result in creating jobs that are badly needed for young people. Once the sector thrives, more young people will be interested in joining farming because this is a profitable venture,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cotton Board of Zambia (CBZ) Chief Executive Officer Sunduzwayo Banda recently revealed that Government demonstrated goodwill when it recently approved in principle to revise the Cotton Act of 2005.
And, Trust Africa Southern Africa Region Representative Beatrice Makwenda observed that Zambia would make a positive stride once it refines the Cotton Act of 2005 adding that the Region is looking up to Government and other stakeholders to really bring the new law to fruition and respond to the farmers’ needs.