Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Farmers’ unions have urged tobacco farmers to embrace plastic money and trade with dealers with point of sale machines to reduce the negative impact of cash shortages.
This comes as most farmers are complaining of cash constraints at tobacco auction floor banks. At one time farmers demonstrated against the cash constraints.
The farmers complained that they required cash to pay labourers back home as these did not have bank accounts. They said they were experiencing challenges as some banks did not have cash, resulting in the farmers camping at the floors for days. Farmers also complained that financial institutions were taking long to credit their bank accounts when they sell their tobacco.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union director Mr Edward Dune said the cash shortage was a national crisis which required all stakeholders to co-operate.
He said some farmers were worsening the situation by bringing their crop for sales without having made prior booking arrangements.
He said this resulted in banks failing to meet the daily cash requirements as they would be overwhelmed by the increase in the number of farmers.
“We have staff at the floors who check on the challenges being faced by farmers and these are some of the problems they are coming across.
“We are educating farmers on the advantage of booking before coming to the floors. We also educate them on the use of plastic money but it is a process and will take long before all farmers embrace the system,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said it was unfortunate that some farmers were buying inputs and groceries using the cash.
He said farmers preferred the informal sector and some of the dealers did not have point of sale machines and therefore required cash.
“We negotiated that farmers get $1 000 per initial sale so they can be able to go back home and pay their workers who require small amounts of money. Surprisingly, some farmers use all the money to buy goods and this results in them going back to the banks for more cash.
“We are educating farmers to trade using plastic money. Some of the farm workers require small amounts of money and are not bankable and those can be paid in cash. But for property, inputs and groceries, farmers can use their bank cards.
“It is unfortunate that some farmers trust dealers at the floors who convince them that they should get their cash from banks.
“We are making efforts to continue promoting the use of plastic money but some farmers still resist and end up buying goods from unscrupulous business people. In some cases they are duped and they buy fake inputs,” he said.