Farmers suspected auctioneers who recently deliberately lowered prices of tobacco for business people who would later sell the tobacco to farmer contracting companies at a higher price. Last week truck loads of tobacco bought by business people for close to US$0.50 per kilogram at tobacco flows, was transported to plot 15 here. The tobacco was re-branded before it was resold at private tobacco farmer contracting companies at a higher price. More than 500 bales were bought and resold through the scandal, said a disgruntled farmer who sold his tobacco to the business people.
Poor farmers said that judging by the high class of vehicles driving into plot 15, cheating business people could be connected to top government officials. They also indicated lowering of prices of the green leaf, could be influenced by top politicians in connivance with auctioneers. An official at one of the tobacco auction floors, Boka, dismissed suspicions by farmers. He said the price of tobacco could have been lowered by the decrease in potential buyers with cash to buy the tobacco recently.
The price of the green leaf has since started to stabilize and rose to an average US$3 per kilogram in the past week. Meanwhile, some business people were arrested by police at plot 15 last Friday, following a tip off by disgruntled farmers. Charges preferred against the accused were not yet established at the time of going to print.Post published in: Manufacturing