Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector dominated by ‘contract’ farmers

via Zim tobacco sector dominated by ‘contract’ farmers | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Monday, May 12, 2014

A new report by the state’s Sunday Mail has indicated that the majority of the country’s tobacco sector is now almost dominated by ‘contract’ farmers.

Contract farming in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector has seen many foreign groups like Chinese companies, enter into farming deals with local growers who cannot afford inputs and others costs.

Instead of the produce then being auctioned at Zimbabwe’s tobacco auction floors, the stock is sold to the contract holders.

The Sunday Mail report said that 70% of Zimbabwe’s registered tobacco growers this season are operating on contract systems. The report stated that this has put the future of the local auction floors in doubt, because they are auctioning smaller stocks of tobacco every season.

At the same time, the Sunday Mail report said that some self-financing growers are allegedly using banned tobacco treatment chemicals, leading to buyers offering low prices at the local auction floors.

The report underscores concerns raised by the Commercial Famers Union (CFU) about the instability of Zimbabwe being a single-crop producer, with tobacco being the crop of choice in the still underperforming agricultural sector

The much publicised ‘success’ of the tobacco sector has been lauded by ZANU PF, which led the land grab campaign that saw top party officials and loyalists seize commercial farms.

Under the guise of ‘reform’, the campaign resulted in the destruction of the agricultural sector and in turn helped shatter the failing economy. There has also never been a return to the level of local food production seen prior to the launch of the land grabs, leaving Zimbabwe dependent on food imports and an estimated two million Zimbabweans reliant on food aid.

But in recent years a growing number of smallhold tobacco farmers has seen the output of this sector begin to surge.
CFU President Charles Taffs has previously warned that the tobacco success has come at the serious expense of food production, and this was “unsustainable.”

“We’ve come from a hugely diverse agricultural base, to a single crop base. And we are relying on one commodity and as a country we cannot afford to do this,” Taffs said.



  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    Tell that to Made.

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Citing the Sunday Mail as an authority is a bit rich. This newspaper only prints ZANU lies

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    Gomogranny 8 years ago

    Contract farming is just another form of asset stripping. The thousands of hectares of indigenous trees which have been and continue to be destroyed for curing the tobacco will never be recovered. At best they will be replaced by fast growing alien alternatives. At worst we introduce a desertification process which will kick in just as the grandchildren of these contract farmers realize that tobacco does not in fact feed people…it poisons not only the people who grow and handle it but the very ground and ground water running off the land upon which it is cultivated. A combination of mixed farming, crops, free range live stock and a small proportion of cash crop (such as tobacco, coffee, bananas, nuts etc) is the way to go. In every event indigenous trees need to be preserved wherever possible. Most certainly never should they be sacrificed for fuel on this scale.

  • comment-avatar

    Contract farming (whatever nonsense it is meant to mean) leads to lewer price. There is no competitive market once a ‘farmer’ signs a contract – a bit under duress really because they cannot afford not to sign. The auction floors are left with no choice but to also sell at giveaway prices. Alooter zanu pf.