|Tobacco growers earn US$362m|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 00:00|
TOBACCO growers have earned US$362 million from the sale of 96,3 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf as deliveries to the auction floors continue to decline. Auction floors are now receiving an average of 400 000 kgs per day from a high of 600 000 kgs during the peak of the season.
Deliveries were expected to rise when schools opened but they continued to decline.
Prices have, however, remained favourable with the crop selling at an average price of US$3,76 per kilogramme compared to the US$2,76 per kg that was offered during the same period last year.
Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that the Tobacco Sales Floor is leading the auction floors with 13,4 million kg of tobacco worth US$50 million having gone under the hammer so far.
Boka Tobacco Floor has so far sold 12,4 million kg worth US$44 million, Premier Tobacco Floor, 7,4 million kg of the crop valued at US$27,5 million and Millennium Tobacco Floor with 6,9 million kg worth US$25,5 million.
Auction floors are, however, worried with the decline in deliveries to the auction market, blaming this to contractors whom they accused of buying uncontracted crop from growers.
BTF director Ms Rudo Boka recently said due to the low deliveries, by May 11, all auction floors had reduced staff by 50 percent.
Auction floors are all offering the highest price of US$4,99 while prices at the contract market are above US$5 per kg.
Tobacco growers have complained over the price impasse accusing buyers at the auction floors of deliberately keeping prices below US$5.
Recently Minister of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development said it was unfair that buyers were keeping the highest price at US$4,99.
He said farmers should be rewarded for their work and if the quality of the crop is high, prices should be reflective.
A total of 150 million kgs are expected to be sold this season as the country moves towards regaining its status as one of the major tobacco producers in the world.