GOVERNMENT plans to put in place legislation governing tobacco farmers and contractors in a bid to curb side-marketing in Zimbabwe, a government official has said.
This development came at a time when some contract farmers were breaching their contractual obligations by selling the golden leaf to other buyers.
Speaking at the closure of the 2013 marketing season and 2013 National Tobacco workshop in Harare, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made said Cabinet had directed that an arrangement protecting the interest of both farmer and contractor be put in place.
Made said farmers have continued to complain of exploitation in terms of input costs and prices of tobacco.
“To create a harmonious environment, I urge that we speed our work on the legal instrument that would guide parties to contract farming as part of measures to deal with inherent disputes that have been associated with these contractual arrangements,” Made said.
He said farmers’ access to financial support remained the most depressing factor and the tobacco sector merchants must give farmers medium to long-term support.
Made said there was need for investment in irrigation and related tobacco infrastructure at farm level to improve agriculture output.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica Chinamasa also said the number of flue-cured tobacco increased by 27% for the 2013 season to 91 278.
Chinamasa said there were 952 and 611 registered burley and dark air-cured tobacco growers respectively.
She said the total flue-cured tobacco sales increased by 15% to 167 million kg with contract sales accounting for 67,8% of the sales.
Chinamasa said the seasonal average price per kg for flue-cured tobacco was $3,67 as compared to $3,65 achieved in 2012.
Meanwhile, a company working with TIMB, Expert Decision Systems Zimbabwe has introduced a new system that will set scorecards for tobacco farmers to assist them source funds from banks.