TIMB Vows Crackdown on Side Marketing

    Photo: Taco Tuinstra

    Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) vowed to crack down on side marketing, noting that five exporters lost $57 million due to the practice in 2021, according to News Day.

    Side marketing is a form of contract breach in which contracted tobacco growers sell their produce to third parties in violation of an agreement to sell all their leaf to the party who provided the agricultural inputs.

    “This year, 2022, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is on an accelerated drive to end tobacco side-marketing. This criminal practice is responsible for the loss of millions of dollars annually and has the potential to kill the tobacco industry,” the TIMB wrote in an article published on its website.

    “TIMB cannot accurately ascertain how much is lost annually since side-marketing is an illegal activity whose statistics cannot be accurately ascertained. However, in 2021 alone five exporters lost US$57 million as a result of several factors and chief among them being side marketing,” it said.

    Prior to Zimbabwe’s radical land reform program in the early 2000s, most of the country’s tobacco was produced by commercials farmers who funded their own operations and sold their leaf at auction. Today’s Zimbabwean tobacco production is dominated by smallholder production and contract buying, as most of the new farmers are unable to pre-finance their crops.

    In 2021, the TIMB created a special unit, the inspectorate department, to prevent, detect and investigate side marketing and other illegal activities in the tobacco industry.