Auction Holdings Limited Group of Companies (AHL Group) on Tuesday launched a pilot self-service innovation called AHL FUNSAWEKHA, which allows tobacco farmers get information on their fingertips.
AHL Funsawekha, among others, allows tobacco farmers make varied inquiries, including the day their leaf will be sold, and whether it is selling through the contract or auction system.
And speaking at Mponela Trading Centre where he officially launched the machine, AHL Group deputy general manager (Tobacco Sales) Henderson Kanjadza said the innovation had come to relieve farmers of the costs and challenges that farmers used to face when they want to get information on their leaf.
He said AHL Group has always been concerned that farmers incur huge costs and spend more time traveling to their next auction floors just to inquire on what was happening to his tobacco.
Said Kanjadza: “Funsawekha is aimed to cut costs and time that you (farmers) spend to travel to and from their respective markets just to inquire on whether their leaf has been sold or not. This machine gives you freedom to get any information that a registered farmer may need regarding his/her leaf.”
AHL Group corporate affairs manager Mark Ndipita emphasised that all the services rendered through this facility are free; hence, there is no need for farmers to fear that they will be incurring other costs if they make inquiries through the machine.
Nonetheless, village head (VH) Zamatyala of traditional authority Mponela (in Dowa) cautioned the company against introducing “silent fees on your facility/services”.
“We’ve seen many innovations coming for free before. However, as time goes, fees start being charged without the knowledge of the user.
“We don’t want this to happen with farmers here; hence, I am asking you to be open. Tell farmers when such time for introducing fees on your services has come,” said Zamatyala.
But Ndipita assured the farmers that AHL Group does not intend to charge for FUNSAWEKHA services.