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Regional themes > Trade Last update: 2020-11-27  

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The realities of unfair trade - The case of small scale cotton farmers in Zambia

Brown Banda - Teacher at Kagoro Basic School

"I feel that school pupils should also be sensitized about these issues so that the message can grow in them. This will help them understand these issues well unlike the way it is now. Some people are finding it hard to relate to these issues because the issues are new to them. The World Trade Organisation is a new thing to them because they are hearing about it for the first time. They cannot easily relate or link the effects of unfair trade rules to them because they simply do not know how. I understand because I listen to BBC and I have heard of the issues of subsidies, though not fully. I need to learn more about them; probably you could help me understand".

The "Big Noise" team had a meeting with the Katete District Commissioner (Mr. David Phiri). The DC expressed his happiness at the coming of the team.

He mentioned that a lot Zambia's cotton is grown in the eastern province. His said he was happy with the efforts being made by the cotton companies in trying to help small-scale farmers through the out grower schemes.

"I am particularly happy with the coming of cotton companies in my district. They have created ready market for cotton and they help the small farmers through the provision of inputs. This is great and I am happy about it. I would not be happy to see farmers shift to other crops just because of some problems in the industry. I feel that these problems can be resolved so that at the end of the day both a farmer and the company get a fair deal".

"I would like to urge everyone in my district to engage in at least one agricultural activity because agriculture is at the centre of development".

"I support the campaign because it fits in very well as the whole country is fighting for fair trade and because it is within the rights of the people. Farming should be taken as a business and in business everyone should make some profit if they have to remain in business. I am also engaged in agriculture and this is why I feel I should sign this petition. When a farmer produces they should be able to sale their products at the right price.

James "Chamanyazi" Ngoma - Zambian musician

"Chamanyazi" talks to the Katete District Commissioner

"Thank you very much for allowing us to meet you and your people in Katete. We would have been grateful if we had had chance to meet his royal highness Chief Mba'ngombe. I feel that we need to see a situation one day where a farmer will be able to determine the price of his/ her produce- like our friends in the western world".

Henry Malumo - Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) Zambia Coordinator
Henry Malumo - Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) Zambia Coordinator

"We as Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) support the Organisation Development and Community Management Trust (ODCMT) and others who are working hard to fight for fair trade. GCAP links its efforts with the Make Trade Fair campaign because trade is key for poverty reduction".

Kalimila Mbeba Zulu
Farmer - Chief Mukanda area Eastern province of Zambia

"We have educated you through the money we make out of farming. We grow maize, Groundnuts and other crops but this cotton business is something else. It is good in its own way as it provides ready market for the commodity but really it is painful. These children you are seeing know how hard the cotton field is. We sometimes sell our chickens, goats and pigs for us to just find money to pay the people who weed and harvest the cotton".

"You are our children and you should really mean to help us because if you don't then you are killing us further".

"I do not know how to write, how do I sign this petition? If you have inkpads then I can use my thumbprint to sign up".

He signed by thumbprint.

Mr. Aaron Moza - Cotton farmer in Petauke
Mr. Aaron Moza - Cotton farmer in Petauke

"We have a lot of problems with these cotton companies. They tell us that cotton prices are determined somewhere else but we do not believe them because we are not there. They do not even tell us how the prices are determined"

Qst: But why do you still get the loan from them and grow cotton?

Answer: The simple reason is that we are suffering. We need cash for our daily needs. You know that!

What price would you propose?

"At least if they could give us K2500 per Kg and not the K1200 they gave us last season".

Mr. Lovemore Zulu - Petauke cotton farmer
Mr. Lovemore Zulu - Petauke cotton farmer

"The problems are the same ones my friends have said already, but I am just here to send the message to the president of this country Mr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa." Him and his ministers and able to talk because they can eat and get satisfied" "Therefore, they should ensure that we also have a share of wealth of the nation"

"We want to see the flow of business where both the buyer and seller are able to make a profit. Otherwise if the situation remains the way it is, we shall continue to move with poverty. That's my message to the president".

Do you have an idea of the World Trade Organisation?

"I know that they control world trade but the issue now is on the local market and not the world market. We have been told by the buyers of cotton that the people at the world market determine the prices but I feel that we still have to do much here. The cotton that these people buy from us contains seed but what they export doesn't have seed. I have just learnt that in fact seed makes more money than tonje (lint). When these people are buying cotton from us they buy seed and lint together as one product when they know that they are going to come up with two or three products. They make too much money out of it. I am told they make cooking oil and animal feed out of the seed. So probably we even eat the same oil. This is not fair and I would like to urge government to come in and sort out these issues. They should, if possible introduce machines that will separate the seed and lint before farmers can sell it to the companies. If they make oil out of the seed, then we should be able to sell it easily because I know that there are many companies that make cooking oil. The lint part is kind of difficult because there are few companies that buy it. Or even better we can be making cooking oil ourselves if government or any genuine investor could put money in it".

What price would you suggest?
"They should increase the price to K10 000 or more. I know its too much but because I don't know much about the prices. That would be my proposal because I am now looking at how much I have sacrificed in this cotton business. I believe the K 10 000.00 will be my compensation for all the loses I have suffered"

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