tobacco queues.jpgWhen the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) introduced a number of interventions to bring sanity to the auction floors which over the years have been characterised by corruption and inadequate ablution facilities, hopes were high among farmers that this season will be better.

It seems that the farmers’ hopes are in vain as a serious health hazard is looming at one of the country’s major tobacco auction floors, which  is characterised by congestion and corruption as farmers have to pay a price to have their tobacco enter  through the gates.

Taking a drive through Glen Eagles or Willovale roads, for one who does not know what is happening at one of the major tobacco auction floor in the Willowale Industrial Area, would be tempted to think that he could be passing through an area with a burst sewerage system.

The situation at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) where long and winding queues of trucks and tobacco growers spending days to gain entrance into the auction floor has become the order of the day and the looming health hazard at TSF has been described as a time bomb.

A visit by ZBC News to the premises revealed that corruption and lack of capacity to serve the growing number of tobacco farmers delivering their golden leaf among other challenges has adversely affected business at the floors.

One of the farmers who represented women at the floor spoke about the situation which she said if not addressed urgently will not only result in disease outbreaks  but could see farmer being fleeced off their due payment as a result of desperation.

“There would be cholera cases reported at this place in a few days time I tell you,” said the farmer.

Another farmers’ representative, Edgar Chidavaenzi appealed to the TIMB to revisit its strategy saying the state of affairs at the TSF floors had deteriorated and there is needs for a complete overhaul of the auctioning system.

ZBC News caught up with Zimbabwe Farmers Union Vice President Berrian Mukwende at another floor, Boka Tobacco Auction, who expressed concern over the high level of corruption that has rocked the industry due to congestion as farmers are being robbed in broad day light due to desperation.

“Cases of robberies are on the increase and we want to urge the floors to speed up their clearance mechanisms so as to reduce congestion at the floors,” he said.

The situation has raised a lot questions from both farmers and observers who say the interventions implemented by TIMB of banning the Class B buyers and the newly introduced booking system was full of loopholes that if not urgently addressed will expose farmers who could end up losing millions of dollars unnecessarily.