FARMERS have been advised against entering into contracts without fully understanding the details. This follows an outcry from farmers over the contract system which they said was ripping them.In most cases farmers end up losing property to the contracting companies after failing to pay back loans and debts. Zimbabwe Farmers Union first vice president, Mr Abdul Nyathi said farmers should fully understand the details of contracts and seek advice when in doubt to avoid problems.
He said Government, farmers' unions and other stakeholders were working towards establishing a document that will guide all contracts.
Mr Nyathi said Government recently introduced a statutory instrument to regulate the production of grains and oil seeds under contract system.
"This document will ensure both sides; the farmer and the contractor benefit from the arrangement. The statutory instrument should be a win-win document since the requirements for both parties will be outlined and we do not expect any challenges," he said.
Mr Nyathi said previously the contract regulations were drafted in favour of the company, but this time both parties would be protected.
"Previously farmers were working for contractors and not getting anything out of it. This resulted in farmers becoming debtors to the contractor," he complained.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa said ZCFU was going to discuss the issue of contract farming at its annual congress.
"We are discouraging farmers from entering into any contracts without full knowledge. Sometimes farmers do not understand the language used by these companies and they end up crying foul," he said.
He said some farmers rush to sign contracts to get inputs and fail to meet some of the obligations of the contract resulting in conflicts.
Contract farming is agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products.
Usually the farmer agrees to provide established quantities of a specific agricultural product, meeting the quality standards and delivery schedule set by the purchaser.
In return, the contractor commits to purchase the product and in most cases, support the farmer by providing inputs.