BY STAFF REPORTER
Tobbaco Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (ToFUZ) has urged the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and the Tobacco Industrial Marketing Board (TIMB), to positively act towards what they described as ‘Modern Day Slavery’ inflicted by tobacco farming contracting companies.
ToFUZ revealed this in their statement issued by the union’s information department.
“Tobbaco Farmers Union of Zimbabwe, urges the government through the Minister of Agriculture and TIMB to take action and put stiff requirements for one to register a contracting company to limit the mushrooming of bogus and incapacitated fly-by night contracting companies,” read their statement.
According to ToFUZ, farmers are being oppressed by contracting companies who milk them of their hard earned money through putting them in showy deals.
“Tobbaco contracting farming in Zimbabwe does not benefit ordinary farmer, it turns them into slaves and enriches the contracting companies.
Farmers are turned into disguised workers for the contracting companies and there are always on credit living them without surplus money to recapitalize and survive,” ToFUZ said.
ToFUZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Believe Tevera said the association seeks for TIMB clarity on the payment methods that are going to be adopted during the 2021 marketing season, together with other issues pertaining the welfare of tobacco farmers.
Tevera also highlighted that TIMB should not storm farmers by last minutes surprises, but should inform them in time prior to the opening of selling season.
The ToFUZ CEO also added that they should be clarity on the foreign currency retention threshold. He then indicated that the retention threshold should be increased rather than last year’s 50/50 share.
Futhermore, Tevera said this drastically affected the production of tobbaco in the country and farmers were affected by this rentention ratio.
The union advocated for an increase in the foreign currency retention, indicating that 70% should be forex whilst 30% RTGS.
ToFUZ also requested the TIMB to engage banks and monetary authorities to ensure that hard cash is readily available for tobbaco farmers.
They said this will assist farmers not to contract the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and help settle payments in preparation for their next season.
Zimbabwe is regarded as Africa’s biggest tobacco producer and the fifth-largest in the world, according to a study published in the Journal of Agrarian Change.
The crop is also one of Zimbabwe’s top foreign-currency earners, accounting for about 12 percent of the nation’s economic output. In 2018, tobacco production reached 252 million kilogrammes, the highest in Zimbabwe’s 121-year history of commercial growing, according to the country’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).