THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), which is opening auction floors tomorrow, has put in place measures to ensure the safety of farmers, workers and buyers.
By Nhau Mangirazi
TIMB said farmers would only be allowed to deliver tobacco to auction floors once a week and would enforce a deliver today and sell tomorrow policy. No banking facilities would be at sales floors.
‘‘We are working closely with Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders for the safety of tobacco farmers considering the COVID-19 challenges affecting the whole world including Zimbabwe,” TIMB said in a statement.
Mashonaland West provincial tobacco farmer of the year, Esther Zandile Maseko, of Carlton Curlieu Farm in Trelawney, said tobacco was a sensitive crop that should be sold on time.
“As much as we are under pressure with the COVID-19 global pandemic, tobacco farmers cannot stock tobacco like maize. It is good that bookings will be done cautiously through auction firms,” she said.
Hurungwe-based farmer Tobias Makara of Tengwe, said: “Opening of auction floors would help more farmers who are financially broke, waiting to sell their produce and repay our loans.”
Boka Tobacco Company provincial co-ordinator Sarah Mahoka said companies would be able to recoup money given to contract farmers.
However, economist Tapiwa Mashakada said COVID-19 would have a devastating impact on Zimbabwe’s agro-based economy
“Measures to mitigate the spread of the virus will mean slowdown in economic activities that is a sad reality against our agro-based economy. Zimbabwe critically needs forex for essential imports and this will augur with for the economy that may contract by minus 10%,” he said.