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Vendors yet to reap from tobacco

BUSINESS is yet to improve for scores of vendors and traders who have flocked to Boka Tobacco floors hoping to capitalise on the tobacco-selling season.

By Tawanda Marwizi

Contrary to the past seasons when business was brisk from the onset, there was little activity, attributed to low tobacco prices that have forced farmers to adopt a wait and see attitude.

Anticipating big business, traders had ordered many scotch carts, ploughs and other farming inputs.

Vendors who occupy market stalls had stocked clothes, cellphones, radio sets and other gadgets they thought would appeal to the farmers.

But low prices at the auction floors averaging US$3,58/kg meant less farmers were willing to sell their tobacco crop.

However, traders on Friday were optimistic that the prices would improve and more farmers would come to the auction floors, making their business brisk.

A recent survey by Standardcommunity at Siyaso, showed that the manufacturing of farming implements had grown rapidly, with tobacco farmers in mind.

“We have been in the business of making these scotch carts for years, but we have been increasing their numbers because of their demand from tobacco farmers who come to sell their produce at Boka,” Phillip Mapavenyika said.

Even airtime vendors who used to ply their trade in the city had relocated to the auction floors, expecting better sales.
Some of the famers who hoped for better prices could be seen milling around the complex.

farmers however, criticised vendors who sold food at exorbitant prices and some other basic commodities that could be bought cheaply in town.

“Just imagine how one can buy sadza for US$1,50. This is too much for some of us who have been here since the auction floors opened last week,” said a Mutoko farmer, Jackson Murova.

It has become the norm that prices of goods sold to farmers at the auction floors are inflated, as businesspeople seek to capitalise on the influx of tobacco farmers.

Another farmer said he was finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“I have no relative in Harare. I have been pumping out money since I came here two weeks ago and I am now bankrupt. I sleep in night clubs, waiting to sell my tobacco,” said another farmer, Tafadzwa Muganga, from Banket.

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