Friday, February 24, 2017

Zimbabwe Tobacco Marketing Season Opens March
February 24, 2017
Elita Chikwati
Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

The 2017 tobacco selling season officially opens on March 15, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has said.

Deliveries will start on March 6, while contract sales begin on March 16.

The tobacco marketing season traditionally starts mid-February, but opened on March 30 last year as the crop had been affected by the El-Nino induced drought.

TIMB corporate communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo told The Herald recently that the opening dates were arrived at after considering the level of preparedness of farmers and the industry.

“We carried out a crop assessment and realised that most farmers were still reaping and curing their crop, he said. The crop was three quarters to maturity.

“Stakeholders in the industry, including farmers unions were consulted on the opening dates and the industry agreed to open on March 15.”

Mr Moyo said preparations for the marketing season were progressing well and mock sales using the new electronic system were being carried out.

Boka Tobacco Floors is the first floor to carry out trials of the new electronic system.

Mr Moyo could not give expected volumes of tobacco for the 2017 season, but indications from other stakeholders are that more than 200 million kgs could pass through the hammer this season.

“It is too early to talk of the volumes, he said. When we carried out the crop assessments we were looking at the quality of the crop and level of preparedness for marketing, not on the volumes.”

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya last year called on the tobacco industry to consider opening auction floors earlier to ease cash shortages.

Dr Mangudya said during the tobacco off season, foreign currency, especially US dollars, goes down.

Government recently awarded tobacco farmers an export incentive, which rewards the growers for generating foreign currency through exporting goods and services.

The incentive pays the farmer a bonus of up to five percent on the foreign currency generated.

The incentive is paid in bond notes, which are at parity with the US dollar.

The 2016/17 season has been characterised by heavy rains and flooding in some areas and this affected farmers as their crop presented false ripening, while others lost their crop to hailstorm.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has licensed three auction floors – Boka Tobacco Floors, Premier Tobacco Floors and Tobacco Sales Floor – and 19 contract buyers as preparations for the 2017 marketing hit top gear.

As at February 9, 82 183 farmers had registered for the 2017 season, an increase of 17 percent from 70 537 growers who had registered during the corresponding period last year.

There are 14 880 new growers this season, an increase of 64 percent from the 9 057 new growers last year.

A total of 107 035 hectares have been put under tobacco this year, compared to 95 160 hectares last year.

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