Tobacco farmers appeal for low interest loans

The government has been urged to avail low interest loans for tobacco farmers especially women and youths who are finding it difficult to fund their projects.

In a press statement, Tuesday, Tobacco Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (ToFUZ) Executive President, Believe Tevera said the low-interest loans will certainly see an increase in tobacco production as farmers will increase hectare capacity.

“As tobacco farmers, we faced numerous challenges last season that consequently resulted in a decrease in the number of farmers who registered to grow the crop for the 2020/2021 season,” said Tevera.

“On several platforms, we have urged the authorities to initiate flexible input schemes for tobacco farmers not willing to join systems.”

He said they aim to see empowered tobacco farmers who can independently make decisions without conditions as the case with contract farming.

“Given that tobacco is the country’s largest single foreign currency earner after gold and it contributes much to our economic growth as a nation. Tobacco farming should be promoted through supportive input loan facilities,” said Tevera.

“Due to challenges faced last season some farmers carried over bills from last season forcing most farmers to join contract farming schemes for this season.”

Meanwhile, Tevera added that the foreign currency retention was increased from 50 percent to 60 percent.

“Though we would have wanted 70 percent forex retention for farmers, we applaud the RBZ and the Ministry of Agriculture for the policy review which is set to benefit farmers.

“We also urge farmers to make use of the auction system if need be as the doors are widely open for tobacco farmers to purchase and/ or supplement their foreign exchange requirements from the auction system,” he said.

Tevera also urged farmers to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations during this 2021 tobacco selling season.

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