By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI- Several tobacco companies have shown interests in setting up auction floors after taking heed of Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB)’s call to decentralize operations.
Karoi town had Mashonaland Tobacco Company (MTC) that operated two floors while several companies fueled side marketing when they started buying tobacco from farmers sponsored by reputable companies of late.
One senior manager with one of the companies revealed that some companies had fueled discontent among farmers over side marketing of late.
‘The challenge remains if TIMB will be bold enough to revoke licenses of some companies buying tobacco that they did not sub-contract farmers by giving them inputs,’ said our source speaking on condition that he is not named for professional reasons.
Boka Tobacco, Voodsell are among other companies that have applied for land in the farming town.
Karoi town council chairperson Abel Matsika confirmed the influx of tobacco companies that want establish auction floors.
‘We are grateful that as Karoi town and Hurungwe district in general we are benefitting with the decentralization of tobacco marketing. To date we had serious engagements with four new players in the industry and this will boost local economic development as money will circulate and the whole business chain will benefit right down to the airtime vendor and vegetable vendor,’ said Matsika
He added that the establishment of tobacco auction floors will help in employment creation for Hurungwe.
‘We are talking of real growth of Karoi and this will make a difference of the face of town in future,’ added Matsika.
He however, implored tobacco companies to plough back to the community.
‘We look forward to see these companies acting responsibly and to beautify Karoi and Hurungwe in general. We also need to take care of the underprivileged and we really expect a lot of visibility of these companies in areas of socio corporate responsibility,’ said Matsika.
Mashonaland West resident minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka challenged tobacco companies to help the environment by boosting tree planting at farms to help in climate change as several companies are contracting farmers for the golden leaf production.
Mliswa-Chikoka said, ‘‘Cutting down of trees by tobacco farmers is an elephant in the house. We can’t discourage farmers to abandon tobacco farming as it is source of livelihood but let these companies play a pivotal role in tree planting and encourage other forms of curing tobacco like use of charcoal, or solar powered system that will help in maintaining our forests,’
She challenged tobacco farmers to take tree planting trees like a ‘hobby to mitigate the impact of climate change’ as it negatively affecting the rainfall pattern and food security in the region due to recurrent droughts.
‘Tree planting must be party of lives at family and community level so that our forests can be rejuvenated again,’ she said.
Forestry Commission provincial manager Lewis Radzire revealed that they are rebranding nature by promoting both exotic and indigenous fruit tree planting at household level.
Razire said according to TIMB at least 70 000 tobacco farmers were officially registered for this farming season within Mashonaland West province that has six districts namely Hurungwe, Kariba, Makonde, Sanyati, Kadoma and Zvimba.
‘Out of these registered tobacco farmers at least 15 percent more remain unregistered and out of the whole number, 70 percent of the farmers are from Hurungwe district which make it a productive district that account for overuse of trees in curing tobacco,’ revealed Razire