Eating the golden goose

| March 12, 2018

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured-tobacco growers always complain about getting a raw deal despite their being the goose that lays the golden egg of much-needed foreign currency, according to a story by Fidelity Mhlanga for the Zimbabwe Standard.

And their concerns have been voiced yet again ahead of the opening of the 2018 tobacco marketing season on March 21.

But whether their voices will be heard is another matter. Mhlanga reported that each marketing season growers were left stranded as the authorities seemed not to address their plight.

The Federation for Farmers’ Union chairman Wonder Chabikwa reportedly said there was a need to handle carefully tobacco farmers’ welfare because they facilitated the inflow of forex into the country.

Mhlanga reported that last season the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had announced that growers would be paid [in cash] $1,000 initially, while the rest of their earnings would be deposited in bank accounts.

That never happened, leaving farmers at the mercy of ‘cash barons’ and unscrupulous traders who took advantage of the chaos by buying tobacco in cash at lower prices than those prevailing on the auction floors.

Recently, RBZ governor John Mangudya said that, upon presentation of sales statements, growers would be paid $300 per day through banks stationed at auction floors. He said the balance would be transferred into growers’ bank accounts.

The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association CEO Rodney Ambrose said small-scale farmers should be prioritised as they had not embraced plastic money.

“Therefore, farmers should once again be prioritised in their requirements for cash-based costs and foreign currency allocation for critical inputs and capital expenditure, the latter of which the RBZ has pledged to do this season.”

Economist Clemence Machadu said the rural areas where most tobacco was grown were deprived of banking infrastructure, hence the need for cash.

And Machadu said it was essential for authorities to deal decisively with bogus buyers to bring sanity to the tobacco selling procedure.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said it was geared to stem the problem of bogus buyers this season. It had been conducting training and awareness programs for farmers; it had put in place stringent crowd control measures at the selling points and was it working closely with the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the President’s Office.


Category: Breaking News, Leaf, Markets, People

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