Voedsel International’s work ethic helps transform tobacco farming

Bothwell Chabarika

Many farmers in and around Marondera have pointed out that they are glad to be doing business with Voedsel International which buys their product at highly competitive prices at a time when other buyers are not being fair to farmers.
The farmers who spoke to EnviroPress said they sell their tobacco to Voedsel International which offers favourable buying price of US$6.10 per kg, up from the previous price of $5.60 per kg.
They praised the help that they get from Voedsel International CEO Innocent Mahufe who is always on the ground making sure that farmers get the good customer care they deserve.

“It is very encouraging that we, at last, have a buyer who respects us and respects the hard work that we do. To respect farmers means that you must give them a fair price that encourages them to go back to the land and work harder. This is the respect we are getting from Voedsel International,” said Taona Mavenge, who has been in the tobacco farming business for 10 years.
Another farmer, Ruvarashe Chonzi said due to the new buying price, she was considering doubling the size of land on which she will plant tobacco next season.
“Tobacco farmers often complain that they are not treated fairly by buying companies. As a result, farmers do not put all their effort in farming which deprives the economy of potential foreign currency earning. I find the buying price being offered by Voedsel being good enough to motivate me to plant more,” she said.

Voedsel Mashonaland East provincial manager, Patience Munguni told this reporter that the company was prepared to give cash to every farmer who brought quality tobacco; adding that the expectation was to double last season’s tonnage.

“Fodya kuVoedsel International, mari kumurimi! Voedsel International chimwe chimushini!. This is our slogan and our motto to guide our spirit in this industry. We are ready to give farmers what they deserve and that will be cash for quality tobacco. We are currently the best buyer and we are looking forward to buy seven million tonnes this season. We closed last season with 4.5 million tonnes,” said Munguni.

She said there was immense improvement in quality, and a significant change in tobacco nesting as evidenced by the reduction in the number of mixed bales.
“We are planning to empower farmers by educating them on best practice and equipping them with the right tools to make their work easier. More field days are scheduled for the impending season,” said Munguni.

Owen Kunaka, who is the leader of Voedsel International area managers, said the presence of the company had helped improve livelihoods not only in the tobacco farming community, but for those working in down-stream industries too.
“If you talk to the transporters, for instance, you would find that they are happy with the timely payments that they receive for their services. We are a company which believes in shared growth and prosperity,” said Kunaka.

Chipo Mazai, a Voedsel International area manager, said she was pleased by the performance of the farmers doing business with the company.
“The dedication and performance of the farmers is pleasing These are the people who work hard for their families and for the country. We need to acknowledge that hard work by giving them what they deserve,” said Mazai.
She said the company was registering success due to the dedication of the team which include the chairperson namely Alvin Isaac, Wonder Mafuta and Morgan Mazai who all help farmers to improve the quality of their produce.