Contractors that still owe tobacco farmers money will see future purchases blocked by The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) in an effort to discipline the sector, reports the Zimbabwe Independent.
According to TIMB, contractors that still owe farmers money, have submitted plans detailing how they intend to pay farmers back, stretching well into the upcoming 2023 tobacco season. The TIMB had said that some contractors would not be allowed to purchase tobacco moving forward until they had paid their debts.
Contract farming has become a given in Zimbabwe and with banks no longer wanting to get involved in funding, contractors have come in to fill the gap. However, payment has been problematic over the years, with farmers often ending up short-changed.
Earlier in 2022, after new regulations for contract tobacco farming were introduced, eight companies (Voedsel, Agritrade, Chevron, Munakiri, Bindura Leaf, Mbaluk, Huruyadzo and Sub Sahara) had operations suspended by TIMB due to the non-remittance of stop order deductions, reports the Zimbabwe Independent. The new regulations were put in place after it had come to light that farmers were being underfunded and overcharged for inputs.
The TIMB has promised to keep an eye on the situation while enforcing the new regulations and installing discipline into the sector. This means that farmers will receive their payments and at the same time contractors will be guaranteed their returns, according to the Zimbabwe Independent.