Most of the 121,143 growers that registered for the new season are established tobacco farmers with only 575 new farmers among them. In comparison, last season there had been 1,715 new growers recorded. The decline is thought to be down to the TIMB’s tighter rules on both contractors and farmers as well as challenges the tobacco industry is facing on a whole, reports The Herald.
The TIMB has tightened processes after complaints by farmers saying contractors were not paying on time and manipulating prices as well as contractors saying middlemen were encouraging farmers to market their products on the side.
“We have tightened our vetting and verification processes for farmer registration and grower number renewal. […] TIMB treasures quality farmers over quantity therefore we will continually improve our processes to retain genuine and legitimate farmers only,” said TIMB public affairs officer Ms Chelesani Moyo.
Tobacco Association Zimbabwe president, Mr George Seremwe argued that the reason registration numbers had gone down was because farmers had made losses.
“Too much cartels on one cake in the industry. Surrogate contractors short changed farmers last season. We cannot have tobacco farmers not paid from last season up to now,” he said.