The Tobacco Farmers Union (TFU) has urged the government of Zimbabwe to make contracting companies treat small-scale farmers as equal partners in the production process, reports Newsday.
The union said farmers’ interest in growing tobacco had decreased because contractors were claiming the lion’s share of earnings realized from the sale of the crop.
Zimbabwe is one of the world’s biggest tobacco exporters, having produced 190 million kg last year, earning farmers about $748 million.
But official statistics indicate that farmers paid back $400 million to contracting companies, leaving them with only $350 million.
“Tobacco contract farming in Zimbabwe does not benefit the ordinary farmer,” the TFU said in a statement ahead of the start of this year’s marketing season.
The season is expected to kick off next month if regulators are convinced that World Health Organization protocols on controlling Covid-19 are adhered to, according to Tobacco Industry Marketing Board CEO Andrew Matibiri.