The Tobacco Board of Zambia revoked the purchasing license for Tombwe Processing Limited following the company’s failure to adhere to the rules that govern tobacco buying.
Speaking after conducting a tour of the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) and Tombwe Processing Limited tobacco buying floors in Lusaka yesterday, Agriculture Minister, Wylbur Simuusa, says he has heard the complaints of the tobacco farmers and will call for an urgent meeting with all key players and resolve the problem.
Mr. Simuusa has expressed shock that the farmers, who are from different parts of the country, have been at Tombwe for over three months and have not been able to sale their produce following the suspension of the license for Tombwe by TBZ.
He says the farmers are the first priority because without them, there could be no buyers and that it is imperative that farmers are considered first in everything.
Mr Simuusa has since assured the farmers that the decision to give Tombwe Processing Limited its license back will be dealt with the urgency it deserves.
Speaking during the same tour,Tombwe Processing Limited Managing Director, Aldert Van Der Vinne, said he has written a letter of appeal to the Minister to help resolve the matter urgently because over three thousand tobacco farmers have not been able to sale their tobacco to the affiliated company.
Mr. Vinne says the farmers by now should have started preparing for the next farming season but cannot do so because their contractor, Tombwe, has no trading license to supply them with the necessities such as fertilizer.
He complained that TBZ has not given the company genuine reasons as to why the license was suspended.
Speaking earlier, Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) Board Chairperson Reuben Mahombe, explained that the board decided to suspend the license for Tombwe Processing for failure to adhere to the laid regulations in the tobacco industry.
Meanwhile the farmers who have been camped at Tobacco Association of Zambia for three months to sale their tobacco took advantage of the presence of the Minister to air out their grievances on how bad they are being treated by the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ).
The farmers have accused the association of favoring whites in the buying of tobacco and sidelining local farmers.
They further accused the association of corruption stating that the association buys tobacco from people who offer them bribes.