Farmers anticipate high 2019 tobacco auctioning sales

By Rudo Saungweme

Farmers are anticipating the sale of tobacco which is to commence on 21 March amid a 50 percent United States Dollars payment facility which has incentivised a lot of farmers to grow the golden leaf.

The agreement was made yesterday following the meeting held with farmers by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Dr John Mangudya.

In an interview with Harare Post today, a Chinhoyi tobacco farmer Mrs Agnes Tomu said that she was in anticipation of the new payment plan.

“I grew my golden crop in September before the introduction of a mix of foreign currency and RTGS$. It was not in my plans to receive the payment in foreign currency, so I am waiting anxiously to receive my share,” she said.

Mrs Tendai Chirikure said that the Government incentives on farmers had attracted some farmers who were now contemplating to stop growing tobacco arguing that they were not getting recognition. She added that Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) would experience a large number of new farmers this year.

Mrs Chirikure said, “TIMB is going to have more tobacco farmers than expected this year. Some farmers were now contemplating to quit tobacco farming because they felt they are being short changed. Gold producers were the only ones who would get 70 percent of their money in foreign currency. Tobacco farmers were now thinking that the golden leaf does not have value.”

The introduction of the 50 percent payment in foreign currency was agreed upon yesterday after interactive and listening engagement between Dr Mangudya and the farmers. The balance will be at interbank rate on previous day, paid in RTGS Dollars, less RTGS loans and other registered stop orders based on 100 percent sales value into RTGS account. There should be a separation of USD and RTGS account.

In December last year, Dr Mangudya had indicated that the tobacco farmers will get 30 percent in USD as their part payment. This development incentivised the tobacco farmers. More tobacco farmers are now coming into play.

In 2018, Zimbabwe produced a record of 252 million kg of the golden leaf, which surpassed a record of 235 million kg achieved in 1999.