The perennial challenge of delayed access to funds by tobacco farmers continues to haunt the sector and now may be threatening the operational viability of this lucrative industry.

The industry is lucrative attracting a number of small-scale communal farmers over the last decade as figures sit above 100 000 registered farmers.

With this upsurge in figures, there has been corresponding pressures to the logistical issues for selling the golden leaf.

The issues that are currently affecting the tobacco farmer can be traced to five years ago, replicated over this period and leaving the farmer seriously wondering the essence of continuing in this sector no matter how viable.

The tobacco farmer is powerless in this equation, and the responsible authorities have taken a position knowing the farmer will not take any action that will compromise the selling season given the desperation to satisfy one of their immediate needs, payment for utilised labour to produce the crop, noted Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union director, Mr Jeremiah Tevera.

The problems currently faced at the auction floors pinpoint serious gaps to addressing a number of hygiene issues associated with payment for sales.

“Typical challenges relate to the inactive bank accounts and challenges associated with booking of the crop for the final sale which has gravitated the cash problem at the marketing points this year,” said Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director, Mr Paul Zakariya.

The farmers view the current payment regime as cumbersome.

In developed nations such as Brazil, tobacco farmers constitute their marketing boards.

This way they have managed to combat issues that undermine the farmer.

The situation in Zimbabwe paints a different story and experts believe this should be an issue that needs to be revisited.