Government, through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, has introduced an instant payment system for tobbaco farmers ahead of the tobbaco season starting on Wednesday.
This new system will see the tobacco growers receiving their payments a few minutes after selling their produce unlike in the past years where payment for tobacco deliveries could take days to be processed.
Speaking at the tour of tobacco auction floors on last week, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said the new payment system will allow farmers to receive payment immediately after delivering their produce.
“There is no need for tobacco growers to go even one day without being paid. The systems are so efficient that they have guaranteed us that within 10 minutes that some form of payment will be arranged. So the farmers come in with the produce, they deliver and almost immediately the account is credited, we don’t see any challenges, the money is coming in, ”he said.
Last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) introduced the foreign currency retention of 60 percent to 40 percent local currency.
However, tobbaco farmers have been appealing of a 80 percent foreign currency retention to 20 percent local currency saying the 60:40 ratio will affect working capital for their next season as most tobacco inputs are now being purchased in foreign currency.
Speaking to the BusinessMail, one tobbaco farmer Jeremiah Gwanzura said the government must take cognizance of the idea that their cost of production especially labour is being paid in USD currency.
“As tobacco farmers we where looking at foreign currency retention of at least 80% to 20% local currency. Our cost of production especially labour is being paid in USD currency which the government needs to take cognizance of.
If prices are going to be low this can cause farmers to change the farming Enterprises so a lot of systems & policies need to be put in place to support this golden leaf to earn more foreign currency for our country & improve the standard of living of our farmers, ” he said.
Previous tobbaco marketing seasons have seen dubious & scrupulous activities destorting the market prices which have seen many farmers now resorting to other crops.
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