Tobacco Commission (TC) says it is pondering on the introduction of e-ticketing of tobacco marketing to replace physical auctioning to enhance transparency and fairness on the tobacco market.
The development comes in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected marketing of tobacco this season due to the restricted number of people allowed to witness tobacco sales at the auction.
TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala, in a written response on Monday, said for the first time this season has seen the introduction of secret bidding auction of tobacco, a move away from the open auction which puts buyers and sellers in close contact.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic and the secret bidding has given them a wake-up call to explore other means of tobacco marketing, with e-ticketing as a viable option to bring fairness.
Sadala said under e-ticketing, sales take place in real-time without room for discussion and collusion among buyers, thereby reducing market distortions and bringing fairness.
He said: “In some advanced countries, they use e-ticketing. That is the direction we should be considering to explore. It is a very fair system with no conspiracy of any kind.”
Sadala’s remarks come amid concerns from growers over poor prices offered by the buyers, with growers suspecting collusion and conspiracy among buyers as evidenced by the recent surge in the rejection rate to 80 percent.
Tama Farmers Trust director of operations Nixon Lita said in an interview on Monday that tobacco growers are aware of the regulator’s e-ticketing plans, describing it as a move in the right direction.
He said: “It’s a positive development which we are aware of as Tama Farmers Trust. Currently, growers travel long distances just to get seller sheets from designated tobacco market offices.
“Now with Covid-19 pandemic, we have restrictions on how growers can witness the sales of tobacco at the auction floors.”
Lita said the challenge would be technology penetration among tobacco growers.
To relieving farmers’ the burden of travelling long distances to access tobacco sales information, AHL Group launched a mobile platform called AHL252.
AHL Tobacco Sales general manager Graham Kunimba said the platform has assorted information from transaction notifications and tobacco sales quota for growers’ convenience.