THE Zambia Cotton Ginners Association (ZCGA) has said the price it is offering for cotton this year has been caused by the low prices of the commodity on the international market.
The ZCGA said it has been constrained by the collapse in the world cotton lint prices since last year and the local industry is suffering from the negative impact.
The Zambia Cotton Ginners Association (ZCGA) Executive Secretary Bourne Chooka said the cotton buyers were sympathetic to the plight of those smallholder farmers affected by the significant drop in the offered price for this season's crop.
He said this year was a bad season for the cotton industry and everyone was taking a knock as a result of the huge fall in world prices.
Mr Chooka said from 1912 until 2012, cotton prices averaged 56.5 cents/lb, reaching an all time, once in a lifetime high in March 2011 and the drop from last year's high, translated to a whopping 69.6 per cent.
He said currently, the world lint price is about 72 cents/lb compared to around $150 cents this time last year adding that, much of the slump in price had occurred in March this year.
"We are all adversely affected by the global drop in the price of cotton, the farmers badly need the money and we also need the cotton."
"However, we are hamstrung by the demand to pay prices that do not reflect the economic realities and the impact of the change in world lint prices dictates a reduction in producer prices all around the world and Zambia is no exception." Mr Chooka said.
Buyers in Lusaka province are believed to be offering K2,000 per kilogramme while farmers are said to be demanding last year's prices of K3,200 per kilogramme.
And in Chipata Eastern Province, the cotton farmers have threatened to burn their cotton harvested this year rather than selling the crop at lower prices than what the buyers paid for last year.
Cotton buyers are offering to buy one kilogramme of cotton at K1, 600 as opposed to last year's price of K3, 600 for the same quantity.
Mr Chooka said it was not in their interest as cotton buyers to offer low incentives for the growers who provided a steady supply of a product that made their business to operate.
He said the buyers were hopeful for some kind of understanding of the situation that could see them through the bad season so that they could look at sustaining the industry, because it was an important component of Zambia's economic fabric.
He also explained that buyers had over K90 billion (USD18 million) in loans outstanding that they had advanced the farmers for the planting season in terms of seed and all the other cotton inputs.
Economic experts who include the Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) suggest that the resolution to the problem required a comprehensive package of agro reforms and development assistance, with the latter focused on development of rural areas where cotton was an important crop.
PSDA's Yusuf Dodia said: "The current situation demands that players in the cotton industry adopt a balance approach to seeing through a bad season for sustained future benefits."