The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said it will use the e-marketing and manual systems depending on the volumes at the floors when the 2017/18 marketing season kicks off next month.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
The e-marketing system stuttered last year and failed to take off on the first day of the marketing season due to technical glitches, forcing auction floors to revert to the manual system.
“The e-marketing system will be used in the 2017/18 marketing season on both the contract and auction system. However, when deliveries are high on the auction system, we have an option of reverting to the manual system in order to speed up sales,” TIMB public relations manager Isheunesu Moyo said.
“In this case, only the bidding process will be done manually as pre-sales and post-bidding procedures such as classification, arbitration, printing of tickets and so on will continue to be done using the system.”
He said preparations for the season were on-going and farmers and stakeholders were being sensitised on selling procedures for the 2017/18 marketing season.
Federation of Farmers’ Union chairman Wonder Chabikwa yesterday said the regulator must ensure that the electronic system must go ahead, as it ensures transparency during the marketing process, adding that “we cannot go back to that old system”.
“We are saying the systems which we copied from India, where it is working, it should also work here. This year, we have to have it work. If you noticed last year, auction prices were going up when the system was used. We are left with no option, but to suspect that there were some dirty hands that didn’t want it to work. That is the most transparent way and it must work because elsewhere it’s working,” he said.
The debut of the e-marketing system last year was well-received, as it was touted to weed off collusion, which has, in the past, ripped off farmers. But after nearly an hour of trying, the authorities decided to revert to the old method, as some buyers were locked out of the system.
The golden leaf is essential in oiling the country’s nostro accounts to enable the importation of key commodities such as fuel, cash, raw materials and electricity.
Last season, the tobacco sales generated $600 million after 190 million kilogrammes of the crop went under the hammer.
This year, Treasury has projected an output of 200 million kg.