The 2016 tobacco selling season officially opened on Wednesday with some farmers complaining about the new payment system in which farmers are expected to receive payment through banks instead of receiving cash at the auction floors.
Some of the farmers told Studio 7 at the tobacco auction floors that the new payment system would inconvenience them as they usually want to buy agricultural inputs once they sell their crop.
Philip Zvavamwe of Shamva said to make matters worse, there are no banks in most farming areas.
“This deal is not good to us because at our local villages we don’t have banks, we need to buy our things quickly and go home,” said Zvavamwe.
Young farmer, Enia Godza of Mt. Darwin, said the new payment system is not good.
“Thats not good because we want to buy things here in town … When I go home there is no price that I want,” said Godza.
Others, however, felt that the payment system would protect the farmers from criminals and unscrupulous dealers who used to rob some of them at auction floors.
Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made, said he expected the new system to satisfy the farmers.
“I hope there will be a balance between the expectations of the farmers and the system that will now come in that the farmers will now be paid through the new banking structure. We must listen to the farmers to see how the system will be working,” said Made.
Some farmers are complaining about new moves to pay them through banks. (Photo: Irwin Chifera)
The new system which is being introduced by the Tobacco Industries Marketing Board is meant to decongest auction floors.
The highest price at the auction floors was $4.50 per kilogram while the least was 50 cents per kilogram. Some farmers like Zvavamwe said the price was good while Made noted that farmers expected the prices to go up so that they get a just reward for their efforts.
Last season the opening selling marketing price was $3.50 per kilogram.
Tobacco Industries Marketing Board chairperson, Monica Chinamasa, said 72,000 farmers had registered to sell tobacco this season compared to 91,000 in the previous season.
Three auctions floors - Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Sales Floor and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor and 16 contractors - were licensed to buy tobacco this season.
Tobacco earned about $900 million from the sale of 152 million kilograms but production went down by about 20 percent.