via Govt to regulate contract farming | The Source February 19, 2014
Government is working on a legal framework to govern contract farming to curb side-marketing and exploitation that has become rampant in the sector, agriculture minister Joseph Made said on Wednesday.
“The ministry is already collecting views and information to be used in drafting a legal framework to guide contract farming and entice both farmers and markets to switch to such arrangements,” Made said in a speech read at the official opening of the 2014 tobacco marketing season.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica Chinamasa said contractors supported over 54 percent of registered growers and funded 72 percent of the total planted area for this season.
During the previous season, contractors accounted for 68 percent of all tobacco purchases, up from 63.7 percent in the prior year.
“Notwithstanding this support, all contractors are urged to supply affordable inputs on time,” she said.
She said TIMB had instituted systems to monitor and evaluate performance of contractors in terms of cost of inputs and the timeliness of disbursement to farmers, and threatened to withdraw licences from those that fail to honour their obligations.
Farmers were urged to fulfil their obligations under contract and to deliver as agreed.
“Our message to all growers is to refrain from side-marketing,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chinamasa said TIMB was collaborating with Chinhoyi University of Technology to develop an affordable ”tunnel” curing system and low-cost low-pressure boiler for conditioning tobacco.
TIMB will also provide seed money for a revolving fund for the construction of a fuel-efficient “rocket” barns.
Farmer training programmes through the Farmers Development Trust would also be resuscitated.
For the 2014 marketing season, TIMB has licenced three auction floors – Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Auction Floor and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor and 15 contractors.
The opening price for this season was $4.85 per kilogramme, while the lowest price was $0.60 cents.
Chinamasa said the industry faced various challenges among them inadequate infrastructure, deforestation, erratic energy supplies, inadequate affordable inputs and lack of finance.
Over 91 000 growers registered for this season compared to 65 000 last year.
New growers also registered from non- traditional tobacco growing areas such as Masvingo and Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces.