Tobacco surrogates must go; Farmers

Tobacco farmers’ unions have implored the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to implement the resolutions by farmers to cancel licences of tobacco surrogates who have prejudiced growers of more than US$22 million through duplicating tobacco merchants and off-takers duties this season.
More than 20 tobacco surrogates have mushroomed in the golden leaf industry playing the middlemen role and at the same time duplicating roles of tobacco off-takers who sponsor them to contract farmers.
With most farmers falling prey to the surrogates’ unscrupulous dealings, tobacco farmers representatives have come out guns blazing calling on TIMB to remove these middlemen who they claim have prejudiced growers of millions of United States dollars.
“We have engaged TIMB on several occasions and it was agreed that surrogates licensed be cancelled and we still insist that this process of removing these middlemen is long overdue. They have prejudiced farmers over 22 million US$ this season which is not fair and raises eyebrows on why they are still operating, Mutandwa Mutasa of ZPTFA speaks.”
President of the Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe George Seremwe described the licencing of surrogates as tantamount to bringing back banned class B tobacco buyers via the back door.
“These surrogates are chaos in the industry. Look farmers are being duped, we don’t see their relevance and we now suspect that something is fishing because we engaged TIMB on the matter and we agreed that they be removed and we feel they should not be allowed to come back in this coming season, notes Seremwa.”
Claims by new TIMB Chief Executive Officer Meanwell Gudu that surrogates are adding value to the growing of tobacco did not go down well with the Honourable Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliament Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement which recently unearthed that the contract auction system is not aligned to the Acts of Parliament.

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