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Cotton farmers in Zimbabwe appeal for help

Cotton farmers in Zimbabwe have expressed displeasure with the poor and inadequate input package being provided. The farmers say there has been a continuous disregard of their concerns by some companies and in turn they have approached government for help. Such claims also give credence to assertions by analysts that some private companies are not providing adequate inputs just to warrant their presence at buying points. The cotton sector, which supports about 400 000 households, had virtually collapsed with production declining to record lows at 30 000 tonnes last season, the lowest since 1992. This season, the government came up with a $50 million inputs package but fears are growing that it could lose the bulk of the contracted crop through side marketing. Based on distributed seeds, the minimum crop size would be around 110 000 tonnes. Already, there are growing concerns that some private companies might have overstated cotton inputs they gave to farmers to obtain buying licenses during the selling season.