Tobacco farmers motivated by prospects of better prices at auction floors

By Tendai Munengwa

Farmers say the injection of US$60 million to revive the tobacco auction system is the right tonic for achieving the 300 million kilogramme target for the next cropping season.  

With the tobacco marketing season still underway and government having availed 60 million United States dollars for local financing of the golden leaf, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has already floated a tender to mobilise inputs for 50 thousand hectares this season.

“TIMB has flighted a tender to source for inputs for the 2021/22 season, following a directive from the parent Ministry of Agriculture to coordinate the localising of funding in order to support 50 thousand hectares of tobacco. Going forward, the Minister highlighted that the whole exercise will be handled by the AFC Holdings,” said TIMB Spokesperson Chelesani Moyo.

The Zimbabwe Agriculture Think Tank has welcomed government support but feels the involvement of TIMB in the funding mechanism raises more question than answers.

Zimbabwe Agriculture Think Tank Coordinator Dickson Kubvakacha said: “We are very happy by government interventions to avail US$60 million  for reviving auction system. This will motivate our farmers to boost production, but the major challenge is TIMB involvement in funding growers. We feel this must be stopped forthwith as it is unconstitutional. The president established AFC Holdings and the Land Bank should be allowed to handle their local funding and let TIMB stick to its mandate of regulating and marketing the crop.”

According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board Act of 2001 – sourcing or procuring of inputs is outside TIMB’s mandate.