• July 24, 2024

Farmers Want Improved Local Funding

 Farmers Want Improved Local Funding
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe have called on the government to improve local funding of the country’s leaf production to ensure that farmers are receiving maximum benefits from their crops, reports The Herald.

Tobacco farming is financed mainly through offshore funding; 95 percent of farmers work under contract, and 5 percent are self-financed.

Zimbabwe only retains about 12.5 percent of its tobacco value as the remainder goes toward paying back loans and interest from offshore financiers.

According to George Seremwe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association, production costs have increased, and local banks cannot finance farmers.

“We are not happy with the current model of contract farming because these merchants are not for the benefit of most of us, so we would like to change that. We are not happy with the current contract system because we are not getting any benefit from anything as farmers. Actually, we are getting poorer.

“We have to raise local funding. As farmers, we are going to look at ways of how we are going to raise capital. We can raise funding to be able to support ourselves. Foreign funding is costly, and it has restrictions on it, and it is not benefiting us at all. Let us rectify this because our government is the one which controls the financial institutions.”

“We have over 30 percent of farmers who are doing side marketing because these offshore beneficiaries entice them,” said Edward Dune, vice president of the Tobacco Farmers Union Trust. “We are very aware of these surrogate players in the industry, but as farmers, we are very much in support of local funding. As farmers, we need good agronomic practices to put in place so that we get maximum benefits out of it.”