The government will begin assessing farm productivity in the next two months and farmers who are not being productive risk losing their land.

Addressing a tobacco conference Harare, the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Cde David Marapira said farmers should be on the land or appoint qualified managers to supervise activities in their absence.

He said a nationwide assessment will be conducted in the next few months and those farmers with idle land risk losing it.

Meanwhile, tobacco farmers have expressed concern over not being consulted when regulations which affect them are made, citing the Tobacco Afforestation Levy whose use is being contested by regulators, and not being paid in foreign currency for golden leaf sales like gold producers.

“We were never consulted on this Afforestation Levy but it is being deducted from us. Now they are sitting on $20 million and there is a fight between the TIMB and the Forestry Commission on who will administer the fund,” said one farmer, Mr Guy Mutasa.

“The levy deducted from me amounts to more than 5 percent of my sales, which is not fair considering that most of us farmers are struggling to farm as inputs are expensive with a bag of fertilizer selling at $36,” another farmer said.

“We want to be paid in US dollars since we are producing a crop that is bringing in foreign currency, just like our counterparts producing gold,” a Norton farmer, Mr Justice Ganyo said.

The tobacco farmers under the auspices of the Tobacco Growers Association will be engaging the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement to address some of the contentious issues ahead of the start of the marketing season on 20 March.

Deliveries for the season have already commenced and the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) will conduct a final inspection tour of auction floors tomorrow (Tuesday).