DESPITE a significant price hike in cotton this selling season, farmers have expressed their dismay over the method of payment. Farmers cited a sudden shift of policy on the buyers’ part. It has been established that this year, cotton is pegged at US$1,05 for A grade up from last year’s US$0,30 per kilogramme. A survey by this paper revealed that farmers had mixed feelings on the price, but welcomed the new price though they expected more. Some were content with the price against the backdrop that cotton was not fetching anything near their expectations. A cotton bale averaging 250 kg of grade D, the poorest, attracts US$200 while the same quantity of grade A will fetch about US$262. Last year’s price of the same quantity of the best grade was US$75, way below this year’s poorest grade. An extension officer from Nembudziya who declined to be named said last year’s price deterred several farmers from growing the crop. He said farmers felt robbed last year and planted maize and tobacco instead. “Farmers were let down last year, if not betrayed by the price,” he said. “The sad thing is that cotton is not an edible crop that farmers can hold to for their consumption. “I know several farmers who stashed their crop in their houses in protest and never went to the market. “Such developments do not affect the farmers only, but the nation as a whole.” Another cotton farmer from Nembudziya communal areas in Gokwe, Mr Seiko Magadzire, said the price was better than last year’s, but expressed disapproval of the grading system used this year. “We are tired of these firms’ sudden change of the goalposts,” he said. “Last year, we were paid paltry prices and this year it is on grading where no one is certain that your cotton will fetch the highest grade because grading done in your absence. You can be told that your cotton was grade C, yet it was grade A, so I doubt that their grading will be fair. Recently, cotton firms in the country were quoted as saying that the grading system was not possible at the point of buying, but only at the depot. However, the system has been criticised as too open to manipulation by some companies.