ALLIANCE One Tobacco Tanzania Limited (AOTTL) said on Wednesday that it has paid 71.9 million US dollars (179.8bn/-) to farmers during the current season.
The company has accomplished this at a time when farmers are complaining about delays in payments of money for their crops due to a shortage of the US dollar in the market.
The money went to over 12,000 contracted tobacco growers in the country this season, after they delivered high-quality tobacco to the company.
The AOTTL Managing Director, Mr Ephraim Mapoore, said that this means that the company has paid every single cent that was due to farmers during the current season.
“All our farmers have received their money,” he said.
He said besides the 71.9 million US dollars payment to contracted farmers, the firm also paid 1.81 million US dollars (4.6bn/-) to Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (Amcos) fees and 780,000 US dollars (1.95bn/-) as levy to tobacco cooperative unions.
“We have also paid a total of 1.72 million US dollars (4.3bn/-) as a crop cess directly to various districts in which we operate,” he said, noting that the payments were made in compliance with the government’s recent directive on the period within which farmers are to receive their money.
Recently, the government directed that all tobacco payments to growers should be paid within 14 days from the date of the completion of the market and that all payments must be concluded in US dollar.
“While the governing laws require all tobacco buyers to pay for purchased tobacco within 14 days, at AOTTL we have managed to pay our contracted farmers within four days,” he said, adding that the move was deliberately designed to relieve contracted growers from the burden of interest payments associated with the loans acquired from commercial banks.
AOTTL’s statement comes at a time when various farmers have been heard complaining about delays in payment of their money from buyers.
A tobacco grower from Shinyanga Region, Mr Emmanuel Samson, was quoted yesterday saying he has been claiming his payment for quite a long time now and has been given the same answers that the banks do not have sufficient US dollars.
Another farmer, Mr Makwaya Samweli, was also been quoted as saying that since May when he sold his tobacco, he had not received his payment to date.
The Tanzania Tobacco Board (TTB) Director General, Mr Stanley Mnozya is on record as having admitted that the delay in the payments of the farmers has been due to challenge of shortage of the US dollars as well as tobacco production at a higher level than the market could normally meet its demand.
“So far now the farmers are claiming 51 million US dollars, efforts are being made to ensure that they are paid all their monies by July 31 so that they can prepare for the new farming season,” said Mr Mnozya while insisting that the shortage of the US currency has been the challenge.
But while visiting the company’s pavilion cooperatives at the Nane Nane grounds at Ipuli in Tabora, Hassan Wakasuvi, a representative of the farmers and Chairman of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi for Tabora, confirmed to have received his money on time from AOTTL.
“Let me declare my interest, my Amcos is contracted to AOTTL, and I personally have received my 20,000 US dollars into my account from AOTTL, and the payment was made within four days,” he said.