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Zimbabwe Finance Minister, Disgruntled Cotton Farmers Meet Over Prices

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister at the weekend visited the country's cotton nerve centre, Gokwe, and held meetings with disgruntled farmers who for weeks now have been holding onto this year's produce complaining about low buying prices.

Tendai Biti met with the farmers at Chitekete Business Centre in Gokwe in the Midlands province to discuss the problems they were facing in selling their produce. His agriculture colleague, Joseph Made, who initially was expected to accompany him, failed to turn up.

Cotton farmers have been holding onto this year's crop demanding buyers raise the price from 30 cents to anything between 49 and 80 cents per kilogram. But the buyers, under the Cotton Ginners Association, were offering prices ranging from 29 to 40 cents.

Last week some farmers met with the parliamentary committee on agriculture to present their case. The House committee was Tuesday expected to meet with the buyers in an effort to break the impasse.

Gokwe-Kabuyuni lawmaker, Costin Muguti, of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA's Jonga Kandemiiri that Biti told the farmers the major problem was the government was not a cotton buyer.

But the finance minister promised to take the farmers' grievances to the next cabinet meeting for discussion.