Preparations for the 2016 tobacco selling season have reached an advanced stage with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board discouraging farmers from politicising the process to ensure an efficient marketing system.
TIMB said in the past seasons, farmers had resorted to rioting if disgruntled instead of approaching the board for arbitration.
Officiating at the 2015 Tobacco Sales Floor tobacco grower of the year awards yesterday, Mrs Monica Chinamasa said prices were determined by the quality of the crop and farmers had the right to cancel sales if not satisfied with the price offered by buyers.
“We should not mix politics and farming. They are two different things. We should not bring politics to tobacco as the industry is orderly and organised.
“This season, we are discouraging farmers from politicising tobacco marketing. If the farmer is not happy with prices, he or she should approach TIMB for arbitration. TIMB rules are meant to create a smooth environment in which farmers can sell their tobacco at the best prices. Merchants can buy tobacco to their satisfaction and all service providers can achieve a good return on their investment,” she said.
Mrs Chinamasa said important practices such as farmers’ registration, booking by farmers, provision of estimate, shunning of side marketing and proper tobacco grading were important to the industry.
“It is important that all stakeholders strictly adhere to TIMB regulations and pronouncements that are made from time to time. I urge farmers to reflect on all directives pronouncements and advice given by the TIMB as we enter the 2016 tobacco selling season,” she said.
She bemoaned the poor rains that affected the growing season and affected output.
The industry is expecting tobacco volumes less than 200 million kilogrammes. Delays in the onset of the rains also resulted in a drop in the area planted to tobacco and yields were expected to fall below the 2014 crop.
Farmers planted 89 559 hectares of tobacco this season compared to 93 419ha last year. In 2014, 216 million kg of tobacco were sold.
“It is our expectation that prices will remain firm for all grades of tobacco,” she said.
Tobacco Sales Limited chairman, Mr Antony Mandiwanza, said TSF remained committed to an orderly marketing of tobacco in Zimbabwe and supported initiatives to improve the marketing process.
“Tobacco remains a significant foreign currency earner for the country and its marketing has to pass international scrutiny.
“The TSF grower of the year awards pay tribute to outstanding performance by our tobacco farmers and related service providers.
“The ceremony, which is in its sixth year running, has been improved over the years to include service providers who facilitate the growing of tobacco in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, Mr Paul Zakariya, expressed concern that some people, who were not tobacco farmers, were accessing registration numbers and selling the crop as middlemen.
“The real farmer is not getting meaningful profits. I urge farmers to develop a culture of saving money. They should not buy things impulsively. They should also invest in training as few farmers have the adequate knowledge and expertise,” he said.
Winners went home with prizes including tractors, motor bikes, water pumps, generators and inputs.