By Moses Charedzera
The majority of tobacco farmers will not be able to attend the auctioning of their crop after the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, TIMB issued guidelines allowing only farmers with 100 or more bales to be present at the auction floors.
In a press release entitled Tobacco Industry: Guidelines on COVID-19 Preventative Measures, TIMB announced a raft of preventive measures to stop the spread of coronavirus at auction floors that include the use of their representative during auctions of tobacco by farmers with less than 100 bales of the golden leaf, who constitute the majority of growers of tobacco.
“Not all growers shall be allowed to attend sales (virtual sales). Only growers agreeable to this arrangement can deliver. Growers not in-favour of this sales arrangement can wait for further developments in COVID-19 regulations. Nominated TIMB registered grower representatives at the floors shall make decisions on behalf of the absent grower. The details of the nominated TIMB registered grower representatives shall be submitted by the grower at booking including formal agreements through legally signed affidavits by the nominator.
“All growers with less than 100 bales per sale are not allowed to attend the sales and shall nominate a TIMB registered grower representative. All growers delivering more than 100 bales per sale can attend and witness the sale without necessarily appointing a grower representative,” reads part of the press release.
The guidelines include stringent control of staff, farmers and transporters seeking entry into the auction floors, combined with temperature screening and sanitising while observing social distancing measures. Farmers are now required to book before travelling to the floors.
“No farmer will be allowed to deliver tobacco for sale more than once per week. All tobacco sales points will provide toll free phone numbers for booking and general communication. The farmer shall be notified of his or her tentative selling time at the point of booking.
“Selling floors shall accept tobacco deliveries as from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm, with trucks arriving outside the permissible time being turned away.
“A maximum of only two people are allowed on-board the tobacco delivery trucks. The “delivery today and sale tomorrow” policy will be enforced in full. There will be no banking facilities available at sales floors and respective banks will advise their clients where these services will be available,” reads part of the statement.
The measures which involve clearing up flea markets and other market stalls which have become a traditional feature of the auction floors during the tobacco marketing season will also see each auction floor establishing an isolation area in accordance with guidelines and recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
This year the season is scheduled to open on the 29th of this month. The auction floors which have been listed as essential delayed opening to allow precautionary measures to be taken against coronavirus.