Tobacco farmers cry foul


Agriculture Reporter
Tobacco growers will now have their defective bales re-handled at the auction floors unlike in previous seasons when they re-sorted them on their own. Buyers reject bales for reasons ranging from their being wet, too dry or mouldy, among others. Tobacco growers yesterday complained about the new arrangement, saying they had a right to decide what to do with their rejected bales.

Mr Abel Matemai said the new system disadvantaged farmers as they had to wait for defective bales to be re-handled and sold.
“I have to spend more days camped at the auction floor waiting for a single bale. I should be able to choose to take my bales back home and bring them later but the auction floor officials are refusing to give us our bales,” he said.

Karoi farmer Ms Venna Chinoda said she was told to go and get a letter from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board if she wanted to get her defective bale back.

“The arrangement is making our lives difficult,” she said.
Boka Tobacco Floors operations manager Mr Moses Bias said they received an instruction from the TIMB to withhold defective bales for re-handling on site.

“We are following the TIMB instruction to send rejected bales automatically to the grading shed. The farmer will have to sign another contract for re-handling and this is meant to avoid double-handling,” he said.

He said the arrangement was put in place after realising that some farmers were not re-handling rejected bales properly and these were subsequently rejected three or more times.

Tobacco Sales Floor managing director Mr James Mutambanesango said the arrangement was in the farmers’ interest.
“We would like to reduce middlemen. TSF does not re-handle the rejected bales but we have officials approved by the TIMB to do the task and we monitor the process,” he said.

TIMB chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri farmers could only get their bales back if they were not happy with the price offered.

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