By Vincent Khonje- Mana.
Tobacco farmers at Kasungu’s Chinkhoma Auction floors have expressed concern over high tobacco rejection rate.
This year’s tobacco season has for the first time seen tobacco grown by farmers under contract farming being returned.
One of the farmers, Loyce Nyirongo from Makanda Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Mwase in Kasungu said she worked hard the whole year under contract farming only to find out that some bales have been returned.
“I have made a loss as four bales out of 13 have been returned to me. I will get the bales and may be use as manure, what else can I do with them?” Nyirongo queried.
Another farmer, Makanda Phiri from the same TA Mwase said he has nowhere to take the returned tobacco.
“Six bales were returned out of 28. I will not get the returned bales as I have nowhere to take them to, but this is a loss to me considering what I invested,” he said.
The farmers have bemoaned poor prices saying the buyers are now stuck at offering tobacco at US$1.90 as highest price regardless of quality.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma said there was need to come up with lasting solution by engaging all stakeholders.
“As a Ministry, we need to call upon all stakeholders in the industry and sit down to map the way forward on what can be done. All farmers are complaining whether on contract or those selling on auction,” she said.
Nkusa Nkhoma on Monday visited Chinkhoma Floors where she went to appreciate tobacco sales.
Tobacco Commission Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Levi Phelani said the commission was concerned with the development as well.
“But as a regulation body we are going to take the issue up with the buyers and see how it can be solved,” he promised.
Most farmers have complained that despite having extension services even under contract farming the farmers are deserted before they finish the whole process.