Stop stealing from tobacco farmers, pay them adequately, timeously – warns VP Chiwenga

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By Anna Chibamu

VICE President Constantino Chiwenga has warned tobacco buyers and contractors from stealing from farmers who struggled to produce the gold leaf during a long and challenging production period.

Officially opening the 2023 Tobacco Marketing Season at the Tobacco Sales Floors (TSF), Harare on Wednesday, VP Chiwenga said farmers should be given fair pricing and paid on time.

Most tobacco farmers in the past, failed to grow tobacco after contractors defaulted on payments.

Some buyers offered low prices for the cured tobacco and farmers Wednesday begged to get fair prices.

“As the regulating authority (Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board-TIMB), the attention and focus of the tobacco industry marketing board should be fixed on the entire value chain to make sure that there is fairness ethical behavior, transparency, accountability, discipline, equity and sustainability in this important crop value chain.

“These are values that define our tobacco industry. As government, our eyes are transfixed on the role of tobacco in uplifting the livelihoods of Zimbabweans.

The government launched the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation plan to raise tobacco productivity and to accelerate production of tobacco farming to 70% of the cost of production by 2025 as well as to increase production from 262 million kgs  to 300 million kgs by 2025,” Chiwenga said.

He added that the programme is also meant to increase the production of alternative crops and increase their contribution to the famers’ income to 25% by 2025 and increase the level value addition and beneficiation of tobacco.

TIMB board chairperson Patrick Davenish in his speech said all farmers being owed would get their money this weekend.

Farmers who spoke to after the official opening mentioned that inputs were now expensive especially fertilizers.

“Inputs are beyond our reach and this is limiting our production. Some contract companies delay payments and this has caused problems in our planning for the cropping season,” said one farmer from Darwendale.