Tobacco farmers cry foul over forex payouts

Source: Tobacco farmers cry foul over forex payouts | The Herald April 23, 2019

Tobacco farmers cry foul over forex payoutsMrs Monica Chinamasa

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Tobacco growers have appealed to parliamentarians to engage responsible authorities to increase foreign currency cash allocations for them to buy inputs and return to the field next season.

Farmers are getting 50 percent of their money in RTGS while the other 50 percent is deposited into their Nostro Foreign Currency Accounts.

They are getting 50 cents per kilogramme cash for the RTGS transactions and 10 cents per kilogramme for the United States dollar trans actions.

The farmers are also complaining of low prices prevailing on the market this season.

This came out last week when the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement toured Boka Tobacco Auction Floors and Premier Tobacco Floors.

The committee, which is chaired by Mberengwa North legislator Cde Tafanana Zhou, was taken through the tobacco marketing process and had a chance to meet farmers and hear their concerns.

The farmers said they needed more foreign currency to buy inputs such as fertilisers.

Some farmers said the issue of FCA was not user friendly as they had to bring invoices for them to access their money.

“We appeal to Government to increase the cash allocations,” one of the farmers said. “Few farmers are buying inputs this season unlike other seasons because they do not have the money.”

Boka Tobacco Auction Floors managing director Mrs Chido Nyakudya confirmed that prices were lower than last year.

“We facilitate the selling of tobacco at our premises,” she said. “We do not buy tobacco and we do not have any influence on the prices. We also wish the prices could firm as we depend on commissions from the tobacco sales.”

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa urged Government to engage merchants on the repatriation of their funds.

“Merchants borrow offshore to support production and to buy our tobacco,” she said. “Long back, it used to work very well since the rate between the US dollar and the bond note was 1:1. They need to repay the money, but this time around they are not allowed to take most of the money out, yet they have obligations. That is the crux of the matter.”

Mrs Chinamasa attributed the low deliveries at the floors to a poor season characterised by late rains.

Cde Zhou said the concerns raised by farmers were genuine and the committee was going to look at them.

“We are going to sit down and make some recommendations,” he said.