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Tobacco Stakeholders urged to come up with a pension scheme

by Simbarashe Sithole
12 Jan 2024 at 16:01hrs | Views
Agronomy expert Lazarus Gatawa has urged stakeholders in the tobacco industry to consider putting in place a special pension scheme for tobacco farmers.

Gatawa, who is a tobacco senior agronomist in Mashonaland central province said farmers are in the mainstream production of the high-return gold leaf which is now bringing close to US$1 billion annually to the economy and deserve some pension payouts after they have stopped growing or retired from farming the crop.

"We are witnessing many aged farmers, particularly the small-scale tobacco growers, living a poor life with no fallback but used to participate in the value chain of the golden leaf," Gatawa said.

The current tobacco insurance models only cover seasonal risks and do not secure a decent living for the grower upon retirement.

"Farmers could contribute some cents per every kg sold towards their pension scheme on an annual basis. This will then appetize policymakers to come up with a mechanism that will safeguard the fund," he added.

Tobacco farmers spend so many years concentrating their energy on the demanding crop and need to live better in the post-growing period.

"Most farmers commence growing tobacco in their young age and should be able to start receiving pension funds from say 55 years of age or when a farmer decides to quit the business, disregard of age.

Farmers need to be assisted into this pension arrangement as it is difficult for them to put aside some money from their proceeds solely for this purpose. In most cases 2 to 3 months after selling their tobacco, small scale farmers will have no money so it is impractical to expect them to set aside money to use after retirement."

The farmers are in a smash-and-grab type of business approach which is not sustainable to their future livelihood.

Sustainable tobacco production should not only concentrate on ways of producing the crop but should also embrace the welfare of the farmer when he/she stops farming due to old age. This will encourage farmers to even perform better as higher yields will attract more pension returns.

Source - Byo24News