The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has suspended a tobacco contractor from operating on allegations of them defrauding farmers.
TIMB said Vision Leaf Tobacco management was suspended after an assessment which discovered some anomalies in the contractor’s operations.
In a communication to the contractor, TIMB said:
Consequently, the TIMB has suspended your contract sales with immediate effect and you are directed to stop conducting sales and resumption will be determined by your remedying of the above issues.
TIMB public affairs officer Chelesani Tsarwe said the contractor was suspended for violating the Contractors’ Compliance Administration Framework. Tsarwe said in an interview with ZimLive:
This includes altering Goods Received Vouchers (GRVs), non-disclosure and or absence of prices of inputs issued to farmers and underfunding only to charge abnormally high a mark-up rate for inputs is a way through which contractors defraud the tobacco grower.
The welfare of the grower is at the epicentre of TIMB’s operations and this season we will not allow the grower to be victimised.
We have a tough stance against non-compliance to industry regulations, short-changing tobacco growers and other actions that destabilise the tobacco industry.
Over the years, tobacco farmers have cried foul over deductions made by contractors for inputs supplied, accusing them of inflating prices.
Officially opening the 2023 tobacco selling season recently, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga implored the TIMB to ensure transparency and fair tobacco sales at the contract and auction floors.
Zimbabwe expects to produce 230 million kilograms of tobacco this year, up from 212 million kilograms last year, following good rains and after more farmers planted the crop.