Broken hearts at tobacco auction floors

Broken hearts at tobacco auction floors | The Sunday Mail 10/04/2016

Harmony Agere
Scores of tobacco farmers were last week left stranded at various auction floors after failing to get payment for their crop.
The development has been attributed to slow processing of payments as well as cash shortages in banks.
From this marketing season on, farmers will be paid through banks as opposed to getting cash at the floors.
“We are in the sixth day of trading but no payments have been made,” said farmer Kizito Mashonganyika of Wedza.
“We still have a crop in the field and it needs a lot of attention so the more we stay here, the more the crop is at risk. Also, we have to pay workers and other bills.”

A snap survey at tobacco auction floors in Harare last week established that some farmers have been waiting for payment since Monday.
Some slept on lawns while others loitered outside auction floors in the punishing cold temperatures which had engulfed Harare.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa expressed shock and disappointment at the way farmers were being treated.
“The farmers have not been paid and we do not understand why, no one is giving us any reasons,” he said.
“They promised us that the new system will be easy and convenient but we are surprised they are now saying the payment takes longer to be processed. It’s difficult for farmers because they have expenses to meet and their continued stay here is eating into the little money they might have.”
But some auction floors said all farmers who had sold their golden leaf had been paid, adding that those experiencing delays had likely failed to submit their banking details on time.
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors director of operations and special projects, Mr Moses Bias, said with the payment being made through RTGS, the process would take between two and three days for those who do not have accounts.
“The problem is that farmers do not understand the new system of payment that we are using,” he said. “Over half of them are coming here without bank accounts and this makes the payment impossible. What then happens is that they have to open new accounts at any one of the banks that we have here. But because we use the RTGs payment system the payment may end up taking longer, about 2-3 days.”
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board public relations manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo flatly denied that farmers were not being paid.
“As far as I know a farmer gets his money into the bank account once the transaction is done,” he said.
“If anything, these are few isolated cases where farmers have not yet received their money. I heard such cases in the morning (Thursday) but I haven’t come across that problem, if unpaid farmers have queries or such matters they can directly come to us so that we can see how best we can help each other.”
He emphasised that the new system was the best way going forward.
“The bank account system benefits outweigh the disadvantages in the sense that a farmer has a track record hence he can be able to borrow money from the banks.
“Under the new financial inclusion strategy a track record may be used as collateral for small-scale farmers,” he said.
Sources in the banking sector said cash shortages were compounding matters.
The said some banks were delaying processing of payments as they did not have huge amounts of cash at hand.
Farmers are not the only ones affected.
Hundreds of informal traders who flock and set up camp at auction floors said their businesses were taking a knock.
Even sex workers and conmen who target the cash-rich farmers are feeling the pinch.
“We think it is going to be a very difficult season for some of us because we do not have confidence in the new system because as you can see farmers have not been paid,” said one trader, Benedict Chakuzira of Waterfalls.
“And we hear there is no cash in the banks so we will just wait here to see if anything changes but we have faith things will get better.”


  • comment-avatar
    Will I am Tell 6 years ago

    I am very happy to know that these ‘new farmers’ now suffer.

  • comment-avatar
    Lourens kriel 6 years ago

    No sympathy for tobacco farmers,they are the reason for millions collapse lungs