Tobacco farmers are ignoring chances

When Roger Bock began trading business in the 1990s, the tobacco trade in Harare, the floors was quiet places, except for the melodious sound of the auctioneer.

Several white farmers, each sale of hundreds of bales of tobacco, arrived in sports cars, check the best hotels in the city, waiting for their big checks should be reduced. During the auction season this year, quite a different scene unfolded under the cavernous roof Paula Bock tobacco auction. Every day, hundreds of farmers arrived in vans and on the back of pickup trucks, many with wives and children in tow. They camped in the open field nearby and rush into the cacophony of sex to sell their crops. This place was lively and crowded; two women gave birth at the auction floor.

The most obvious difference, however, was the color of their faces: one of them was black. “Before, you see only white person here,” said Rudo Boca, Boca’s daughter, who now runs the family. “Now for all. This is a wonderful spectacle.” The government of Zimbabwe began the seizure of white farms in 2000, less than 2000 farmers growing tobacco, the most profitable crop in the country, and most of them white. The success of these small farmers has led some experts to reconsider the legacy of forced Zimbabwe’s land redistribution, even if they condemn its violence and destruction. But amid all this pain, tens of thousands of people have received small plots of land reform farms, and in recent years, many of these new farmers overcome early in the fight for fare very well.

With no other choice but to work the land, small farmers have made a go of it that the production does not coincide with the white farmers whose land they have, but they are far from the disaster many had expected, some analysts and academics. “We can not apologize for the way it was done,” said Ian Scoones, an expert on agriculture at the University of Sussex, who intensively study of land reform in Zimbabwe over the past decade. “But there are many myths that are caught – that land reform was a disaster, that all lands were seized by cronies in the ruling party that it was all a huge mess. It does not matter. Also, there was a resounding success.”

The result was a broad, if not painful, the shift of wealth in agriculture from white commercial producers on large farms to black farmers is much smaller plot of land. In the past year, these farmers have shared $ 400 million of tobacco, in accordance with the African Institute for Agrarian Studies, earning on average $ 6000 rubles, a huge sum for most Zimbabweans. “The money was divided between 1500 large-scale producers at the present time, together with 58 000 producers, most of them are small scale,” said Andrew Matibiri, director of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board. “This is a major change in the country.”

New farmers receive virtually no help from the government, which for many years invested in the larger economy is given to the political elite is connected. Instead, farmers are receiving assistance from the tobacco industry, in the form of loans, advances and learning. In order to revive the industry Boca, so the company has invested significant funds to help farmers improve productivity and quality.

Tobacco is a complex culture that requires precise application of fertilizers and careful harvest. It should be treated and evaluated properly to get the maximum price. Recently, Alex Vokoto, Head of Public Relations at the auction, it is desirable to have noticed a few bales of cured tobacco leaves in a honey-colored on the floor and hurried the man who grew them, Stewart Mhavei, the VIP-lounge for a cup of coffee and a chat.

“This man is growing high-quality tobacco, and he only had him for three years,” said Vokoto. So far this season he has earned more than $ 10,000 on the part of a huge farm that once belonged to a white family, investing profits in the truck to transport his tobacco, as well as rent a truck with other farmers. Charles Taffs, chairman of the Union of commercial farmers, said that the industry could be transformed to include more black farmers in a much less destructive manner.

“The tragedy of tobacco in that expansion, if they had the right policies, can be done in the 1990s in connection with the commercial sector”, Taffs said. Instead, hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs and the country suffered huge economic losses as a result.

Tobacco output is still below its peak in 2000, when the harvest hit 236 million pounds.

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