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-The Herald

TOBACCO farmers are smiling all the way to the bank as payments are being made as per Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) directive, which stipulates that 60 percent of farmers’ earnings should be in foreign currency, while the remainder is liquidated at the prevailing foreign currency auction rate.

The tobacco marketing season began on April 7.

By the end of last week, more than 44,8 million kg worth US$116 million had been sold compared to 26 million kgs worth US$58,7 million in the same period a year ago.

Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe president Mr George Seremwe confirmed that farmers were receiving their payments.

“I am pleased to announce that most of our farmers are getting their United States dollars in compliance with the RBZ’s directive,”

said Mr Seremwe.

“The 60 percent retention is being followed. “However, some contractors are delaying processing of payments, and without sales sheets from the contractors, farmers cannot go to the bank. We have many cases of contractors not giving or printing sales sheets and this is leaving farmers stranded.” Tobacco Farmers Union of Zimbabwe president Mr Believe Tevera said there were some concerns with “the issue of the exchange rate for the remaining 40 percent”. “The auction system exchange rate is lower than the black market rate which is being used by retailers. There is a huge gap between the two rates and this is affecting us. “We urge Government to monitor all business entities and make sure that they follow the official auction system exchange rate when pegging their prices.”

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) public relations officer Mrs Chelesani Moyo said foreign currency was being deposited directly into the farmers’ foreign currency accounts.

“Tobacco growers shall be paid 60 percent of their sale proceeds in foreign currency and the 40 percent portion shall be converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale in local currency. “The 60 percent portion shall be paid directly into the growers’ foreign currency accounts,”

she said.

“Similarly, the 40 percent local currency shall be paid directly into the growers’ local currency bank accounts or e-wallets. “Tobacco growers who opt for 100 percent of their tobacco sales proceeds being paid into their Zimbabwean dollar bank accounts shall also be accommodated.”

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