tobacco hassien.jpgTobacco farmers at auction floors are crying foul after their tobacco was affected by rains, which fell in Harare on Friday.

When ZBC News visited the Tobacco Sales Floor, some farmers could be seen drying their affected crop, which they said has since lost its market value.

“We were trapped inside TSF and we had no option but to watch our golden leaf being destroyed by rain as the authorities at the floor had locked us inside and went off for the Easter holiday,” said one disgruntled farmer.

When contacted for comment, TSF Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Mubatanesango said he was not aware of such developments as he had not visited the floors since the Easter holiday started.

Observers have condemned this approach to business by the auction floor, questioning why they would shut business and go holidaying while leaving queuing farmers facing the wrath of cold and rainy weather conditions that devalue their crop.

On many occasions, farmers have incurred great losses owing to the several days spent queuing to sell their crop leaving them in a difficult situation to prepare for the next tobacco farming season.

Meanwhile, a group of peri-urban farmers from Eyestone Farm in Harare South have contributed record deliveries to the country’s tobacco auction floors, thus justifying calls for more technical support to be given to Zimbabwe’s small scale farmers.

Against the backdrop of Finance Minister, Mr Tendai Biti denying the agriculture sector significant funding, peri-urban farmers residing in Eyestone farm in Harare South have each managed to deliver over 300 bales of tobacco to the auction floors.

The farmers have each tilled over 80 hectares of tobacco.

While pointing out that they have had to do with very little or no resources at all, the farmers say their total yield attained this season is a reflection of their ability to produce for the nation.

Over 170 million kilogrammes of tobacco is expected to go under the hammer this season, and with peri-urban farmers contributing a significant share in that market, experts say calls for the commercialisation of the peri-urban farming sector are long overdue.