Mrs Monica Chinamasa
The tobacco marketing season begins this Wednesday.
We are anticipating a good season and in terms of the preparations we have gone round the auction floors to check their readiness to open this week.
These floors have been in the business, so they are not new; and all we want to see is that they should keep the standards which are acceptable in the industry. And so far what I have seen is that all of them are ready and raring to go.
With the e-marketing coming into play, it has brought in some excitement on how it is going to roll out and farmers should not worry as it is positive and also moving with the times.
If we have any challenges, TIMB and the auction floors will work together to ensure the e-marketing is a success.
We have adopted the model from India and we have a team from India that is here to assist in the event we face some challenges.
But we have tried to expose the growers to the new system.
I hope they will take the attitude of learning the process and not rush to condemn the whole thing.
I appeal to the media to talk about it positively and as a country we have to move with other countries, we can’t stay behind.
TIMB board members went to India to see how the system works and we called them in to help us installing or setting it up.
In terms of cash payments at the auction floors, it depends on what the farmers want to use it for.
Banks are coming, but they will have their own limits for the farmers to withdraw.
Between last season and this one, farmers have learnt that they can withdraw money from their home areas.
There is a possibility that they may not take out everything from the bank as they have already embraced plastic money.
The beauty about the growers is that they accept innovations which are meant to assist them, so we believe we will not face much problems with the issue of cash as we are advocating use of plastic money.
We have mobilised a total of around US$700 million worth of foreign currency, which is an improvement from US$600 million mobilised last year.
In terms of the disbursement to the farmers, it depends with each bank, some banks have more cash than others and banks will announce the limit on the day of opening the auction floors.
Generally the tobacco crop is very good but the irrigated one was very much affected by rain.
But we have found out that the younger crop is doing very well and it will take time before it is reaped.
We are still hoping and we will keep fingers crossed to reach above 205 million kgs this season. We need tobacco to get the foreign currency.
We still hope that our farmers will deliver and won’t let us down.
They should bring every leaf but we insist on good tobacco which will fetch good prices.
Mrs Monica Chinamasa is the chairperson of the Tobacco Industr and Marketing Board. She spoke to The Sunday Mail reporter Livingstone Marufu