Stakeholders in the tobacco industry have applauded the move to consider decentralisation of tobacco auction system by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) as this could ease congestion at the auction floors in Harare.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke to Zbc News, said decentralisation of the tobacco auction floors is long overdue and the coming in of new players in the tobacco industry will bring relief to most farmers as it will present them with a wide range of auction floors to sell their crop.
President of the Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Guy Mutasa however said while the move to bring more players into the industry is plausible, it poses more challenges for the TIMB to ensure that the prices are not manipulated by buyers in the provinces.
â€œMore floors should be established in Harare to avoid manipulation of the farmers in the provincial floors,â€ he said.
Chairperson of the Thematic Committee of Indigenisation and Empowerment, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the move to allow more black people to own auction floors is complimentary to governmentâ€™s indigenisation programme, which seeks to empower the black majority.
She however warned TIMB to give serious consideration to the challenges that will come with the decentralisation process before issuing licences to the new applicants.
â€œTIMB should ensure that merchants do not play region against region in trying to bring down prices,â€ said Senator Mutsvangwa.
A player in the tobacco industry, Mr Masimba Rubatika says stakeholders should also ensure that farmers are not short-changed as is currently the case at other auction floors were buyers are benefiting more than the tobacco growers.
Farmers have been facing many challenges in marketing their crop, leaving decentralisation as the only answer to their plight.
Last week, 13 new platers submitted application for operating auction floor, 7 in Harare and the remainder in other provinces.