By Tariro Kambeu
Tobacco farmers Union of Zimbabwe (ToFUZ), Executive President, Believe Tevera , has requested the payment modalities of the upcoming 2021 marketing season strategy before the opening of the selling season.
Tevere said there should be clarity on the foreign currency retention threshold and should be announced in time before opening of selling season.
“Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) should be clear on the payment modalities so that farmers are prepared and well informed.
“As a union we therefore propose and demand the forex retention ratio to be increased to 70% forex and 30% RTGS.
The local currency payment should be exchanged using the local market rates so that farmers are not forced to go and exchange or use their money impously”, said Tevera.
He further added that the proposal for increase in last year’s 50/50 ratio affected farmers in Zimbabwe leading to most farmers to shift into contract farming.
He highlighted that TIMB must engage with monetary authorities and banks to ensure that cash is readily available in banks to avoid past experiences.
Lately farmers have often waited for weeks for their money to be available after auctioning their tobacco and in most cases wlthey would sleep in pavements after traveling long distances. a
Due to Covid last season’s approach was different, which saw most farmers with less that 20 bales not going to witness the auctioning and pricing methods and many were left disgruntled.
Farmers requested TIMB to allow them access to auction floors just like all retailers such as big supermarkets which are allowing customers inside while observing social distancing and masking up.
“Auction floors should, ln the same vein, adhere to health regulations so that farmers can be present as their tobacco is being sold.
The process has seen individual moving in farms buying tobacco and taking it to the floors once they are satisfied, a system which is described by Tevera as prejudicial and exploitation of farmers hard earned money”.
To that effect, banks and uctioneers deliberately delayed in making payments and also some bales were condemned because there were allegedly wet or damaged which was not the case but an unscrupulous way of handling companies to fleece farmers.
Tevera said TIMB needs to put in place a monitoring mechanism to ensure that farmers are paid promptly upon conclusion of sales so that they are not exposed to various means of losing hope in farming tobacco.