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TIMB ready for 2024 marketing season

TIMB ready for 2024 marketing season


The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says it is ready for the 2024 tobacco marketing season that opens next week Wednesday after adhering to all requirements.

While addressing journalists today at the TIMB Media Interface held at the regulator’s headquarters in Harare, Tapiwa Chimedza, the TIMB Head of Business Development revealed that under the Muhancha Project, TIMB is implementing a centralised tobacco production initiative in Mashonaland West Province.

“Through this initiative, TIMB has grouped 28 small-scale tobacco farmers and upscaled their operations into a formalized commercial enterprise. Currently, the farmers have established a thriving 40ha tobacco project of which 75% is irrigated. This is a high-impact project that ties in with the aspirations of the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, Agriculture Recovery Plan, NDS 1, and Vision 2030,” Chimedza said.

The board said it has partnered with Hwange Colliery to provide discounted coal to tobacco farmers. The programme was launched in October 2023 and to date, 6,000 tonnes of coal have been accessed by bonafide farmers. The objective of the programme is to reduce the cost of producing tobacco. Similar interventions are being planned for other tobacco production cost-centres such as fertilisers.

TIMB partnered with AFC Insurance to improve the access to insurance services by small-scale tobacco farmers. This initiative is in line with the Government’s goal of financial inclusion of small-scale farmers and their viability. 6,500 small-scale tobacco farmers were insured in the 2023/2024 season through this facility. The insurance product covers field-to-floor risks which include hail and wind damage.

One of the objectives of the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan (TVCTP) is: “To ensure that 30% of tobacco farmers’ income comes from alternative crops by 2025”. In implementing the TVCTP, TIMB joined the GLOBAL G.A.P. Community to promote the inclusion of tobacco farmers in horticultural production and exports. TIMB, through the GLOBAL G.A.P.

Academy, has trained and affiliated Registered Trainers to facilitate capacity building on the standard requirements of export markets.

TIMB is now offering GLOBALG.A.P consultancy services to exporting farmers.

The regulator is also developing markets for alternative crops such as sweet potatoes and butternut.

Addressing the same gathering, Isiah Hokonya, the TIMB Inspectorate manager said TIMB has a vibrant inspectorate department decentralised to all tobacco growing regions to effectively police the tobacco industry.

He said the TIMB is prepared to fight the scourge of tobacco illegal activities for the upcoming season. As the regulatory board, it is equipped with both statutory and administrative regulations.

Statutory regulations include among others, the Tobacco Marketing & Levy Act ( chapter 18:20), SI 77/2022 Tobacco Marketing (Side marketing) regulation, SI 61/2004- the Exchange Control(Finance Order) of 2004, and SI 29/2000 Tobacco Industry and Marketing rules.

“For administrative regulations, we have the Contracting Compliance Administration framework that governs the tobacco contracting business. The Auction system compliance framework regulates the Auction systems, then the sales procedure and the transporters’ compliance framework. To complement the above, TIMB has also tightened its controls to ensure zero tolerance for tobacco-related criminality. The Board is working out to implement a biometric fingerprint system to help deter would-be offenders who used to commit crimes using other people’s grower numbers. There is also an integrated IT system in place to monitor all transactions online and the system has been set to detect any form of criminalities by the industry players.

“It is critical to note that TIMB is 24/7 ready to ensure that order prevails within the tobacco industry amid any challenges that might come their way. However, as the Board, we can not rule out crime from the industry, but our mandate is to ensure our regulatory function reduces such crime to tolerable levels as per our strategic plans toward promoting future sustainability and growth of the industry. We have effectively decentralised the services of the inspectorate department to all our tobacco-growing regions and have the task of enforcing such regulations in partnership with the law enforcement agencies,” Hokonya said.

Sheilla Bauren, the TIMB Sustainability officer, said all selling points shall actively spearhead child labour awareness campaigns at their respective premises, including displaying relevant posters and fliers.

“Tobacco sales floors should implement strict age verification processes to ensure that only adults can access the premises. All selling points shall ensure there are no children under the age of 18 in and around selling premises, tobacco processing factories, and any other tobacco storage and handling facilities. Sales floors should prominently display awareness campaigns that highlight the issue of child labor in tobacco production, posters, and educational materials that provide information about the harmful and unethical practices associated with child labour,” Bauren said.

All selling points shall actively spearhead Cholera and COVID-19 awareness campaigns at their respective premises including displaying relevant posters and fliers. TIMB will enlist the support of all relevant authorities, which include the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and local government authorities, to enforce the complete closure and removal of all flea markets and all vendors around the perimeter of auction and contract sales floors ahead of and during the 2024 tobacco marketing season.

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