TIMB sniffs out bogus farmers

TIMB spokesperson Chelisani Moyo said 91% of the registered growers were contracted.

THE Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) says it has pruned at least 28 186 suspected bogus farmers before they could milk the organisation.

At least 115 114 growers registered for the current farming season compared to 148 300 growers during the same period last season.

TIMB spokesperson Chelisani Moyo said 91% of the registered growers were contracted.

“I can confirm that a decline in the number of registered growers this season can be attributed to due diligence undertaken by the TIMB in the vetting process,” Moyo said in a written response.

Moyo explained that TIMB introduced the Contractors’ Compliance Administration Framework implemented in 2021 to bring sanity to the sector.

“A compliance department set up in 2023 with the aim of ensuring full compliance to regulations and standards in the tobacco sector has been effective,” she said.

The framework applies to contractors with regards to licensing requirements and grower support which have been put in place.

“The end goal is to ensure that entities/persons undertaking business in the tobacco sector are regulated according to the Tobacco Industry Marketing Act. A sector that lacks regulation is prone to abuse,” Moyo said.

She said the decline in planted hectarage this season was due to climate change and poor rains.

As at January 24, 2024, 113 101 hectares, compared to 117 645 hectares last season, had been planted.

“The decline in hectarage planted this year as compared to the previous season is also because of the delayed rains which affected the timing of planting,” she said.

Progressive Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe official, Mutandwa Mutasa, however, said the TIMB vetting exercise affected some genuine farmers.

Mutasa said they were engaging both the government and TIMB on the matter.

“The vetting they are saying to have conducted actually affected real and genuine growers because they didn’t carry out a physical verification exercise,” he said.

The organisation has 21 000 tobacco farmers across the golden leaf producing districts in the country.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president George Seremwe expressed reservations about the vetting exercise.

“The screening of the farmers, registration and obtaining growers number has not been so perfect,” he said.

“We have mixed feelings about it as it is tough for our members. We understand there were thousands of bogus grower numbers that helped side marketing affecting the sector especially abused by some surrogates.”

Zimbabwe is one of the world’s top six tobacco producers.

Related Topics