By Owen Mandovha
THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has tightened the screws on unscrupulous individuals and businesses fueling side marketing of the crop with those found on the wrong side of the law set to be prosecuted.
Unregistered buyers and errant farmers face jail time as the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) tightens its noose on unscrupulous individuals and companies who seek to profiteer from the golden leaf without even putting a penny into production.
The regulations are contained in the Statutory Instrument published in the Government gazette last week.
The TIMB says the move is part of Government’s concerted efforts to stamp out malpractices in the tobacco industry which have negatively affected farmers and legitimate contractors.
“If caught in the act of side marketing the golden leaf, one is required to compensate the registered contractor up to three times the value of tobacco under consideration while it has become mandatory that one has to be duly registered to buy tobacco. The TIMB has so far caught at least 60 offenders who have been fined and our Inspectorate will intensify efforts to effectively curb side marketing of the crop,” said Ms Chelisani Moyo, Spokesperson for TIMB.
Most contractors have been left highly indebted after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars financing farmers to grow tobacco, only for them to fall prey to unregistered players who lure farmers into side marketing of the crop.
However, the move by TIMB is expected to bring transparency to the industry which for years was rocked by allegations of financial prejudice of farmers and corruption.
By Owen Mandovha