By Owen Mandovha
THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) have outlined measures to contain the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic, following the official opening of the 2020 tobacco marketing season this Wednesday.
The 2020 tobacco selling season has officially kicked off this Wednesday but what is going to be unusual is the fact that farmers will not be allowed to sell their crop individually to prevent the spread of Covid-19It is always a hive of activity at the auction floors in Harare with tobacco farmers congesting the facilities to sell their crop.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) will only allow representatives to sell tobacco on behalf of farmers to limit the number of people visiting the auction floors.
TIMB Chief Executive Dr Andrew Matibiri explains.
“Selling will be done by way of reps to limit the number of people coming to the floors and banks have been told to come up with payment guidelines that ensure that farmers are paid on time,” he said.
Several auction floors have been set up across all major tobacco growing areas to reduce trips to Harare, the main tobacco selling hub.
“We have set up auction floors in Karoi, Bindura, Mvurwi and many other points and this will reduce the need for travel to the city further reducing transport costs,” they said.
One tobacco contract buyer Tian Ze has put in some measures in an anticipation of the new guidelines.
“Everone will be screened at the gate and we are limiting the number of people coming inside. We will also issue out some gloves and face masks to each and every seller,” said Tian Ze representative.
Tobacco earned the country over a half-billion dollars in 2019 from around 260 million kilogrammes and it is expected that the golden leaf will outperform last year’s record output providing a huge lifeline for Zimbabwe’s economy.
By Owen Mandovha