The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube has expressed his displeasure on the late payment of farmers, vowing to investigate the reason for the delay.
“Complaints have been raised that tobacco farmers, mostly women, were sleeping at the auction floors for two weeks waiting for their money.
“Tobacco farmers are our special farmers. I am unhappy that payment is taking long, like two weeks. It was brought to my attention and we are looking at it. I will engage the Central Bank to resolve the problem,” said Prof Ncube.
The late payment of tobacco farmers has irked him so much that he has tasked himself to tour the tobacco auction floors to have an appreciation of the challenges. His main focus would be to determine where the problem is emanating from. If it’s the banks, buying firms or any other impediments, he said he would be in a better position to address them fully.
An estimate of last season 2019/2020 tobacco production was at 184 million kilograms, while this season 2020/2021 production is expected to reach 200 million kilograms due to the abundant rainfall.
Government has dedicated its resources to ensure that the tobacco growers are paid on time to give them ample time to prepare for their next farming season, which is set to commence this winter season.