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Zimbabwe's tobacco revenue up in smoke


Dozens of Zimbabwe labourers on Monday occupied the Tinago Chisvo’s makeshift office to demand for their wages.

The tobacco farmer, unable to pay, explains the crisis that has hit his farm but nobody cared to listen.

“We don’t want to hear stories, you must just pay us for the job we did for you!” said one of the angry labourers.

But like many Zimbabwean tobacco farmers who ignored warnings of an impending El NIno drought and continued planting, Chisvo has no money to pay the labourers.

The rains he had relied on never came and his crop in Mutoko district in Mashonland East province, a rural district 143km east of Harare, has been devastated.

“I am heavily in debt because my tobacco this year gave me very little cash in return which will all go toward settling my debts, first with workers and second with banks that capitalized my venture,” he said.

Zimbabwean tobacco farmers hit by El Nino’s scorching heat and lack of rain are forced to sell off what remains of their poor-quality crops for a third of what they charged last year.

Without the money they usually make selling the so-called “golden leaf” they and their families would join the millions of the country who are increasingly hungry.

The farmers knew trouble was coming in 2015, the meteorological department (MET) had warned that the country was likely to be affected by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) some of Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers took heed to last year’s warnings and chose to put their farming on hold and use their money to buy enough food to carry their families through the season.

But thousands of others continued farming and regretted their decision.

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