IN a bid to avert the imminent collapse of the tobacco industry, government has given the nod to Tobacco Sales Ltd (TSL)’s plans to fund growers, the Zimbabwe independent h
Agricultural experts though said the move comes too late.
TSL general manager Adiel Karima confirmed that they had been given the green light to work with growers but he could not shed any further light on the scheme.
“TSL is putting finishing touches to the scheme and we will be issuing a statement soon on that issue,” said Karima.
A tobacco expert said the move would have only a limited impact on tobacco growers.
“The deal came too late and it will not change much in terms of production which has been in decline over the past three years,” said the expert.
“A majority of growers have planted already. The scheme will burden TSL which will have to move from farm to farm to assess what is already on the ground. Those who have opted out of the tobacco business are not likely to be lured back this late. They cannot possibly start land preparation now,” he said.
The government has been struggling to get funding for newly-resettled farmers as the international community has said it can only finance a transparent programme.
TSL market information and executive manager Rodney Ambrose said figures for seed sold had declined.
“Total flue cured Virginia seed sold this week was 266,25 kg, down 7,7% on the amount sold at the same time last year.
Ambrose said the small-scale growers accounted for the 46% increase in August, when they purchased 85 kg of seed.
The same cannot be said of large-scale growers.
“Large-scale growers have purchased a total of 118,52 kg of seed compared to 180,93 kg last year, down by 34% and small-scale growers 147,73 kg compared to 126,20 kg, up 17%.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association vice-president David Sandeman said there was still a lot of uncertainty in the sector and this had affected large-scale farmers.
“A lot of our members have been served with Section 8 orders,” he said.
“If you have not been served with a Section 8 there is still a chance of getting one. Growers face a major risk and banks are equally cautious about lending money in uncertain situations,” said Sandeman.