Twenty — six tobacco contractors out of the 37 in business have complied with the regulations of the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board with the board ready to suspend those who do not adhere to the requirements.
TIMB introduced new regulations for contract tobacco farming to safeguard the integrity of the contract system so that tobacco growers would not be short changed and contractors would be guaranteed their returns.
This was after a realisation that some fly-by-night contractors were underfunding farmers and overcharging for inputs while some growers were side-marketing the contracted crop. The new regulations were designed to maintain in decent order what has become the major system of financing tobacco production by eliminating dubious contractors and ensuring farmers fulfil proper contracts.
Contractors are now required to provide proof of commitment or intent to the TIMB by June 30 of every year and failure to do so will lead to their suspension from being allowed to contract growers for that season.
All contractors are now required to submit to TIMB a complete schedule of inputs and their costs by June 30 and failure to do so will lead to suspension for that season.
Contractors are supposed to submit copies of legally binding contracts by September 30 of every year and proof of inputs distributed either paid up invoices or payment plans with suppliers.
All contracted growers without accompanying signed contracts will be de-contracted. In addition, TIMB requires contractors to submit a list of all contracted growers including their contact details by November 30.
TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu yesterday said only nine contractors had not fully complied with the requirements.
“We have 37 licensed contractors and nine out of the 37 are partially compliant because they had submitted partial regulatory information that we require.
“We gave them up until the 31st of December, 2021 to ensure they are fully compliant. TIMB is currently analysing the latest submissions from those previously not compliant. We are going to suspend those who are non-compliant and farmers will be released and allowed to be contracted to other schemes,” he said.
The overwhelming bulk of the tobacco in Zimbabwe is grown under contract farming where the contractors offer growers inputs and buy all the produce from the growers at the stipulated price.
Upon the sale the crop, the contracting company will deduct the money for its inputs from the total amount earned by the grower through a stop order facility with the latter getting the balance.