Contract tobacco farmer duped by Voedsel Tobacco International

This post is about registering my displeasure as a young farmer (29 years ) with Voedsel Tobacco International Tobacco Industry & Marketing Board their employees and associates.

Circumstances are that last year in June I went to sale my tobacco at @voedsel tobacco international and I successfully sold it with no hassles on the day I was supposed to collect my voucher, to see how my produce has been sold and the prices I met someone that I know who was working within the floor I will call him Onias, Onias was very happy to see me and he asked me if I would be interested in getting a tobacco contract for the next season and I was so happy and told him I wanted that help, he introduced me to someone by the name Robert, Robert is area manager for my area and he is a brother to the managing director and founder of voedsel tobacco. Robert then said he will help me getting the load and asked for my details, my first name and surname, my ID number and farm name, my growers number and phone number, which I gladly gave to him .he said he will contact me once there has been progress with the input distribution, that was the last time i heard from that man since June last year

Fast forward to this season, I grew tobacco self-funding myself from October last year and after certain field officers from Voedsel made a tour to my crop, they advised me to sell my tobacco to Voedsel and assured me my crop will be bought well, they secured a selling contract for me, and I was ready to deliver my crop to their floor in Marondera, this last week date 27/04/2022 I delivered my tobacco to their floor in Marondera and my produce was bought well without complaints, I gave them my account number to deposit the money both the nostro account and RTGS account, a total of $2,147.80

On Friday the 29th I came back to collect my voucher statement and only came to realize that these guys had withheld all my money under a term “voedsel recoveries “I didn’t know what this term meant so I went to enquire from one of their offices what that meant, only to be told that I had taken a loan from them and they were recovering a value of the inputs I had taken from them, I was shocked because they last time I remembered trying to take a loan from them I hit a brick wall

They asked me to come back on Tuesday the 3rd of may which is yesterday to enquire from @tobacco industry and marketing board (TIMB) which is a regulator of the tobacco industry. TIMB indeed confirmed that i had taken a loan from Voedsel for a total value of $2281 usd ,i told them i had never taken a loan from voedsel ,thats when they adviced me to ask voedsel to show me receipts of what i had taken and who signed for it ,which i did .and Voedsell guys asked me to search for my receipt book and i didn’t know where to start since the box where the receipt books was in had hundreds of finished receipt books, spent almost 3 hours searching,with the help of one of their workers .

We saw the receipts and on all of them Robert that area manager who had promised me to get the inputs was the one who signed for the inputs under my name, all of them except on which had my signature forged. I brought it to the management’s attention and they said the were summoning Robert to come to the floor to explain what had happened and how did he end up signing for me in my absence. They also acknowledged that this wasn’t the first case in which a farmers information was used to take inputs by the same syndicate,but they laid the burden on me ,they told me to come today 04/05/2022 at 10:00 , and i did

Arrived at the floor and Robert was not there, they told me his phone was not reachable, I asked around the floor for his numbers, got them and called him right away and his phone went through, I then told him his brothers /bosses wanted to talk to him and he denied that his phone has been unreachable .they asked him what his issue was and he was very quick to deny the allegations blaming me for asking ONIAS ( the guy who had introduced me to him ) to collect my inputs for me. told them to summon him and i hit a brick wall ,they said i should come back there following day

I then tried to explain that their area manager, gave their employee inputs under my name and the manager is the one who signed for them and I was never alerted, so this was fraud at company level and not to me because these were the employees of the company who used the information I gave them to steal inputs and never alerted me.

The management told me to report fraud to police of which I didn’t agree, because once i accept to be the one who was defrauded it meant that this is going to be a criminal case with me as a complaint and these guys as the culprits.i asked the company to make a report themselves because it is their employees who used a farmers information to defraud the company,and the should give me a recourse and reimburse my money ,but they said the issue was purely mine against these guys. meaning i have suffered a loss at the expense of the company’s incompetence and their worker’s access to my information.

I then tried to engage Voedsel’s managing director Mr Innocent Mahufe and told him my issue, his response was also that he has had a lot of issues with this Robert guy defrauding farmers and his advice was that I should go and report to the police and that they company won’t be able to reimburse me. he also laid the burden on me and hanged up my phone

I was left with no option but to go and file a complaint to the regulator @Tobacco industry and marketing board (TIMB) and also asking for advice on how I should handle my case since what I wanted was my money not reporting cases. the TIMB manager Mr Chindundu was very professional and tried to help me in every way he could, without also forgetting to mention that he also acknowledged that as a regulator they’ve had serious reports of fraud coming from farmers of the same company. He said they were going to talk to the managing director of the company to ask him what he thinks about all this and how best he can help me get my money without going to court because i will lose what i have worked for.

But as it stands the company is laying the burden on me

So as i young farmer I have very serious questions to the company and the regulator.

If a farmer gives his information to the company representatives who are entitled to help me, and if they chose to defraud your clients. ,do you deal with your incompetent employees or you lay the burden on the victim ?

And TIMB you are failing to protect farmers because if someone chose to use information of a farmer to defraud them, and they can just collect inputs without producing identification ,then how many farmers are going to fall victim to this and up until when are you going to be silent ?

I haven’t given up and Im still expecting to get what i worked for

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