April 8, 2021

Tobacco farmers Want Auction System Restored

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

Zimbabwean tobacco farmers are eager to have the auction system revived, but funding remains their major obstacle.
This year, 90 percent of the crop was financed by contractors as most farmers struggled to independently obtain capital.

Farmers however remain optimistic that the auction system will be reintroduced.

“We call upon the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) and other authorities to come up with something to ensure that the auction system remains functional,” said Zimbabwe Tobacco Association spokesperson, Casper Mlambo.

“Systems need to be put in place to ensure that the auction system rebounds. We must always have a dual system which protects the farmer in Zimbabwe.”

Boka Floors managing director, Chido Nyakudya says auction and contract systems should run concurrently.

“The auction system is much better because it allows the market forces to determine the prices,” she shared.

“I believe that this is why the TIMB allowed the auction system to determine the prices that are used on the contract system. However, there are other factors to consider that are prevalent in Zimbabwe such as the issue of funding.

“We cannot force the farmers to grow without adequate funding. There are also issues to do with compliance where the merchants want to know what has gone into the crop.

“I strongly believe the dual system is the most viable but there is a need to balance it. The current 90 percent domination by contract farmers is too high,” said Nyakudya.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka, said Government is aware of the challenges posed by the dominance of the contract farming system.

“We have already announced that in terms of the industry strategy we want to see increased localisation of financing of tobacco that should guarantee the survival of the auction system,” he said.

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