The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) intends to introduce stiffer penalties for individuals caught doing side marketing of tobacco.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, TIMB public relations officer Chelesani Moyo said the current law was not firm enough against the illegal selling of the cash crop.
“Currently the legislation that is in place does not cater for tobacco side marketing. As a result TIMB has come together with other key stakeholders in the industry to come up with a statutory instrument that will focus specifically on tobacco side marketing.
“The current legislation is not deterrent enough to discourage side marketing. Side marketing is a form of contract default whereby contracted farmers sell their tobacco to third parties in breach of the contractual agreement which states that tobacco ought to be sold to or bought by the contractor who provided inputs to the farmer,” Moyo told the Daily News.
According to the TIMB public relations officer, the new legislative implementation would enforce the ban of side marketing which is affecting auction floor sales and export earnings.
“This statutory instrument will introduce punitive measures against those who are found to have side marketing. For example, the introduction of a higher fine and also introduction of the cancellation of licences of those found engaging in the act.
“TIMB has zero tolerance to side marketing. We are encouraging all stakeholders involved in the production of tobacco to stop the practice and make the tobacco farming business sustainable in Zimbabwe as we look ahead to the 2022 tobacco marketing season,” Moyo said.
Meanwhile, the board has introduced measures to protect farmers from being short-changed by contractors through underfunding and overcharging inputs.
She said TIMB is currently analysing the latest submissions from contractors who previously were not compliant.
“We have 37 licensed contractors and nine out of the 37 are partially compliant because they have submitted partial regulatory information that we require.
“We gave them up until 31 December 2021 to ensure they are fully compliant. We are going to suspend those who are non-compliant and farmers will be released and allowed to be contracted to other schemes,” said Moyo.