Maputo — Farmers in Macanga district, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, on Friday accused the company Mozambique Leaf Tobacco (MLT) of committing abuses which damage the farmers' interests.
The farmers made their complaints in a message delivered at a rally addressed by President Filipe Nyusi in the administrative post of Chidzolomondo.
The farmers sell their tobacco to MLT to be processed and MLT provides them with the inputs. But they believe they are being swindled through the prices charged by MLT.
“The company charges high prices for its inputs”, said the message. “For example, in the 2015 campaign a fifty kilo sack of fertilizer cost between 1,400 and 1,900 meticais (between 23 and 32 US dollars at current exchange rates). But in the 2016/2017 campaign the price ranged from 3,400 to 3,600 meticais a sack”.
The farmers considered these price rises, of around 150 per cent, as “abnormal”. They also accused the MLT staff of helping themselves to inputs and then charging the farmers for them.
“The staff take inputs and they don't pay”, said the message. “In order to liquidate the debt, they put it on the cards of the producers, thus prejudicing the income of their households”.
Reacting to these accusations, Nyusi said he had never heard anything like them before. He promised to look into the matter, and instructed the Tete provincial government to investigate. Elsewhere in the country, tobacco farmers seem to have got a good deal. “When I was in Nampula, I was told that the producers were selling the tobacco at a preferential price - that is, the company was paying more than initially agree”, he said.
Macanga residents also denounced abuses committed by timber operators exploiting forestry resources in the district. They said the operators did not honour their social responsibility commitments, and their trucks “are responsible for the degradation of access roads”.
“We ask that the timber be processed locally to guarantee jobs”, added the message.