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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe betrays tobacco farmers

30 Mar 2019 at 18:04hrs | Views
Tobacco sales floors were officially opened but farmers are frustrated and angry with the demeanour of the  government. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe prior to the opening of the floors promised the farmers to pay them half of thier money in foreign currency. It is a sad story to poor farmers to learn that they will be paid 100% in bond note or RTGS. In the event that a farmer want half of his payment in foreign currency a farmer will laise with TIMB and a bank to get foreign currency at 2.50 rate.

According to many analysts farmers will not get any foreign currency because the process of getting it is more complicated and tiresome.Government promised to deposit half of thier earning into thier Foreign currency account (FCA)  but  unfortunately the government had already reversed their promise. It is much to the chargrin of the farmers who are feeling that thier sweat has been beguiled.

According to Monica Chinamasa the payment into the nostro FCA accounts will be done by the RBZ within 48 hours of the sale. The balance of 50% of the net sale proceeds shall be credited into the grower's RTGS bank account. The process is not easy for many farmers which will make them left with no option except to receive 100% rtgs. According to sources on the first day there was confusion on which currency the farmers will be paid.

Paying farmers with a bond note is just a satire or a slur. To add salt to a wound current prices in various auction floors are unfavourable at all. So far the price of tobacco is ranging from ZWR4.50 to ZWR7.70 per kg. This price compared to last year it is an insult.  The RBZ is robbing the farmers their hard earned money. For the small scale farmers in Zimbabwe it is strenous and hard to produce golden leaf. By its nature golden leaf attracts a plethora of labour.

Future of tobacco farming

Since the land reform programme was launched in early 2000 , small scale tobacco farming has been responsible for tranforming the livehood of people in rural areas. Other farmers were allocated  farms without anything but through entering into financial schemes agreement  with private players such as Masholand Tobacco Company(MTC), Tobacco Premier etc their lives started to change for better. Contract farmers have been receiving all kind of support stretching from inputs to consultation. Famers in Hurungwe, Rusape, Mvurwi and some part of Darwdale etc are among the beneficiaries of tobacco farming. Tobacco can be credited for eradicating poverty in some families in rural areas.

Despite the progress that had been made by these farmers in trying to elevate their lives and economy at large, the government continues to unnotice their efforts. The move by the government to amiliorate paying the farmers in foregn currency will tantamount to other players to desert the field. Like any other business, farmers are also motivated by a decent profit at the end of the farming season.

Carrot and stick approach
The government is pretending to be the champion in the game. It is creating a problem then offer a half-baked solution. This is akin to pluck off feathers of a chicken and then latter on give it some maize to eat. Scrapping 2 % tax is not good news to the farmers as long as their earning is nonreciprocal to prices of commodities in the markets.

The prices at the tobacco sales floors are just nothing but an insult to the farmers. The RBZ is pretending as if nothing is happening and everything is fine but the prices of commodities are not good in the market. The parallel market is trading USD 1 = 4.20 RTGS. The government on its side has its own rate which is unrealistic.

Farmers' expectation from the government
The farmers are unblemished about their grievances, it is upon the executive to accept the plea from the farmers. Farmers want to be paid in foreign currency or to be paid according to the actual RTGS rate in the market. As the hunters of foreign currency they deserve to be heard. Zimbabwe has a potential of a viable and robust economy only if everyone's effort is recognised.

Hupile is a farmer in Karoi and a student of international relations in Turkey. For feedback

Source - Matora Hupile
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