Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is helping growers to sue Pamuka Tobacco Merchant for failing to pay farmers for the crop delivered to the company in July 2020.
TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu confirmed the case. Mr Gudu said the company was suspended last year and could not operate during this season.
“We decided to suspend Pamuka in 2020 after it had failed to pay farmers. This season the company did not participate in contracting or buying tobacco as the suspension has not been lifted. We are helping farmers so they can get their money,” he said.
Affected tobacco growers complained that their money had taken long to come and were appealing to the TIMB and Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe for assistance.
In a letter to TAZ, farmer representative, Mr Zivanai Mutiwokuziva said when they sold their tobacco they expected early payments as was the norm.
“It did not happen as that instead the Pamuka personnel are changing goalposts as to the payment dates. They promise indefinite payment dates which has diluted our wish to grow the same crop because of the lack of financial resources,” he said.
TAZ president, Mr George Seremwe said TIMB should not have allowed the company to buy tobacco as it did not have funds.
“TIMB is there to protect farmers to avoid such incidences. How was Pamuka allowed to buy tobacco when it did not have money. TIMB should pay the farmers and the board recover their money from Pamuka Tobacco Merchant,” he said.
TIMB last year introduced new regulations for contractors to bring order to the sector. According to TIMB, some fly-by-night contractors had come on board and this was distorting figures.
New measures were introduced so growers will not be short-changed and contractors will be guaranteed their returns.