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Payment delays threaten tobacco farming preps

Tobacco payment

PREPARATIONS for the 2022/23 tobacco season are under threat because some tobacco farmers are yet to be paid for their 2021/22 crop, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has revealed.

“We are aware that some tobacco growers have yet to be paid. The Board is working towards resolving the issue to ensure that all outstanding payments are disbursed,” TIMB said in a statement yesterday.

Large amounts of money, TIMB said, are also owed to merchants by tobacco growers.

“Growers are urged to pay off their debts for inputs given by merchants,” TIMB said.

TIMB invited all tobacco farmers who have not received their payments to come forward for assistance, and added that orderly marketing was fundamental to the success of the industry.

The board said that along with the Agriculture ministry, it wanted to bring order and sanity to the industry to achieve a US$5 billion industry by 2025.

The 2022 tobacco marketing season ended on October 21 and all contract and auction floors have since been closed.

Zimbabwe has realised US$650,3 million from tobacco sales this year, up 10,3% compared to last year.

Last year, the southern African country earned US$589,6 million from the sale of 211,1 million kilogrammes of tobacco.

Apart from erratic rainfall which affected planting, farmers were affected by viability issues. For instance, the costs of production went up as demand for the United States dollar component in the operations grew.

The farmers’ problems were compounded by the government’s insistence that only 75% of the sales would be paid in the greenback. The remaining 25% would be paid in the local currency, converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale.

Tobacco production in the country remains heavily dependent on rainfall which makes it susceptible to climate change.

Most of Zimbabwe tobacco is sold to Asia, mainly China and Indonesia are the main buyers of Zimbabwean tobacco, with Europe and Africa being major markets.

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