•  TIMB has issued an order to merchants to deduct any money owed by farmers from two years ago
  • 2022/2023 season is estimated to have 8.5% increase in yield from 2021/2022 season
  • The directive by TIMB might be against the Stop Order Act

Harare-The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has issued an order to merchants to deduct any money owed by farmers from two years ago, following the opening of the floor with an estimated 8.5% increase in yield from the 212 million kg recorded in the previous year.

The debt incurred through the Tobacco Inputs Credit Scheme (TICS) during the 2020/2021 marketing season has caused tension between the TIMB and contractors.

Three companies that were involved in the scheme have been unable to recover their funds due to the misappropriation of inputs and side marketing, creating an atmosphere of distrust and frustration.

 However, Ethical Leaf Tobacco managed to reimburse the debt in full. Emmanuel Matsvaire, TIMB's acting chief executive, emphasized that “TICS legacy debts should take priority over any current merchant’s debts”.

Consequently, merchants are required to deduct the amount owed to the TIMB before collecting any of their investments via the stop-order system.

This includes companies that were not part of the scheme but had contractors with debts funded by TICS, who must still contribute to the legacy debts they are not responsible for, raising concerns that contractors may not get their money back.

 This directive, however, might conflict with the Stop Order Act, which forbids using the returns of crops funded under contracted schemes to pay off any other debt.

The Stop Order Act says: “Save as otherwise provided in any enactment or this Act…no proceeds of any crop or part thereof delivered by or on behalf of a farmer or his legal representative for marketing shall be applied towards the settlement of any debt, including set-off, or by any agreement, express or implied, or any arrangement or instructions of any kind whatsoever, or paid to the farmer or any other person, until all prescribed costs, addressee’s fees, registered stop-orders, and special stop-orders payable in respect of such crop or part thereof have been paid in full.”

The farmers' register reveals 148 527 growers cultivating 117 928 hectares of tobacco, compared to the 110 155 hectares by 122 841 farmers in the past. The TIMB registered 3 283 new growers, indicating a growing interest towards growing tobacco.

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