By Shingirai Vambe
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors have decided to pay farmers in hard currency after most were left demotivated by Government’s payment methods resulting in low turnout this season.
Speaking to Post on Sunday, Boka spokesperson and representative in Rusape, Brian Madzivanzira said farmers were demotivated hence they decided to pay tobacco farmers at least a thousand United States dollars in cash and they have only managed to buy about 30 percent of the tobacco citing previous payment methods and Covid-19 as a major factors affecting sales.
“Since we opened the floors we have managed to buy these few bales of tobacco taking into account the introduction of floors in various provinces and districts across the country due to Covid 19.
“Rusape now has two companies buying tobacco and this has also contributed to low sales. Though having many centres around the country, generally this year’s tobacco production is lower than that of 2019, reason being that of payment methods” said Madzivanzira.
Rusape town operates on two tobacco auction floors, Pamuka and Boka Tobacco Auctioneers
Yester years farmers would sleep out in the cold waiting to get their money to go back home and some would face some challenges with either the bank or the company in processing of payments. Boka Tobacco Auction Floor has advanced its strategy by paying farmers at least USD $1000 and the rest will be deposited into the farmers’ account.
Madzivanzira said this was a way of attracting farmers to come and sell their tobacco to Boka while encouraging them to produce more tobacco for the following season.
He further highlighted that while the quality of tobacco produced in Manicaland and most parts of Rusape was not one of the best qualities as compared to that being produced in Mashonaland West, the highest they have paid so far was USD $ 5.10c.
“Covid has affected us but we are expecting more tobacco to come though farmers look demotivated, this year we have decided to pay a little bit more than last year and urge all farmers to make Boka their first priority” he added.
While Tobacco Industry Marketing Board had set standards for auction floors to open due to Covid 19, Rusape depot is expecting a team from the World Health Organization, (WHO) which is coming to asses and share with farmers on the Covid-19 pandemic this coming Friday.
Madzivanzira said though his staff had not been tested for Covid-19 as yet because of limited number of testing kits across the country, most of them were working amid fears of contracting the virus.
“We are trying our best to maintain Covid-19 regulations, we are also concientising our farmers but more is needed to be done to bring confidence to our staff as well as protecting our farmers” he said.