TIMB tightens screws on tobacco side marketers

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Harare (New Ziana)- The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) will implement stricter strategies to address side marketing of the crop during the 2022 selling season, an official has said.

Side marketing is a form of contract default where a contracted tobacco grower sells his/her tobacco to a third party in breach of a legally binding contractual agreement which states that contracted tobacco shall only be sold to or bought by the licensed contractor who provided inputs to such a grower.

Side marketing is also a form of breach of law when auction tobacco is sold other-ways than through auction floors in breach of S40 of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Act [Chapter 18:20].

TIMB head of Inspectorate, Saviour Muvirimi said new strategies will be implemented during the 2022 selling season to address and discourage side marketing.

“We have engaged relevant authorities to come up with a Statutory Instrument (SI) on side marketing.

“We also recruited informers in all farming areas in order to receive information on the presence of illegal buyers in communities,” he said.

Muvirimi said police would also be roped in to arrest those caught side marketing their tobacco.

“As TIMB will be making constant radar sweeps on frequency of sales on grower numbers with the view to identify grower numbers perpetuating side marketing. Respective individuals will be called to explain these sales and if we are not convinced, we will block and suspend the grower numbers and refer such criminal elements to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for arrest,” he said.

He said the department would also be strict on the adjustment of estimates by farmers.

“Farmers who side market tobacco actually play around statistics by adjusting estimates,” he said.

Traditionally, side marketing was associated with dishonest farmers and ‘uncouth’ dealers, but now also involve some licensed contractors who buy tobacco from farmers contracted to other contractors.

But Muvirimi warned: “TIMB will not hesitate to suspend sales and revoke licences from contractors involved in side marketing. (We will) increase our surveillance patrols in farming communities in order to identify makorokoza’s (dealers) and errant licensed contractors engaging themselves in side marketing,” he said.

New Ziana

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