Tension was high at tobacco auction floors in Harare, Zimbabwe, last week when angry growers claimed they were being cheated by unscrupulous buyers, according to a story by Phyllis Mbanje for the Zimbabwe Standard.
The situation was said to have been especially volatile at Boka Auction Floors, where farmers pushed for protests against what they said was a deliberate move by buyers to short-change them.
The farmers said the prices they had been receiving, which ranged from US$0.60 to about US$3 per kg, made a mockery of their hard work.
The sight of anti-riot police, who could be seen milling around the premises, further angered the farmers, who believed the police’s presence was meant to intimidate them and stop them from protesting.
Mbanje reported that the police were equipped with full combat gear and were patrolling the premises and its environs in a “menacing manner.”
The story quoted a lot of growers who used terms such as “low by any standards” and “daylight robbery” to describe the prices. Some said they had been paid US$2 per kg when they had received about US$5 per kg last season. Many said they would not be growing tobacco again.
Officials at the auctions said some of the tobacco failed to meet the required grades because it was wet, badly packed or poorly sorted or cured.
Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) Chief Executive Officer Andrew Matibiri said buyers had changed their buying patterns and were no longer interested in low-quality tobacco. He dismissed suggestions that buyers were cheating the farmers.
Category: Breaking News