Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Preparations for the 2015 tobacco marketing season are underway amid indications that there could be an oversupply of the crop on the international market, which could lead to lower prices. The expected glut in supply has resulted in merchants putting in strict conditions for the quality of leaf they want to buy.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairperson, Monica Chinamasa yesterday urged farmers not to bring the lower leaves popularly known as primings as merchants have already indicated that they do not want them.
“Buyers have already indicated they want a good cured leaf this season and will not accept scrap and primings as they can get them cheaper elsewhere.”
Mrs Chinamasa said TIMB was yet to come up with the opening date but said auction floors had registered to operate this season.
“Auction floors have applied and paid licence fees. TIMB is still consulting stakeholders on the date of opening of the marketing season and once we agree we will consult Government before the date is approved and announced,” she said.
Last season some auction floor operators were complaining of the contractors who they alleged were taking the bulk of the crop leaving the former with no business.
Mrs Chinamasa urged farmers to follow regulations to avoid paying fines. Some farmers do not register and book before they deliver their crop for sale and these are made to pay fines.
“We charge them because they would have not complied with the regulations. The registration and bookings allow us to make projections and if farmers do not book we get wrong targets and it costs us,” she said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa said farmers should reap, cure and grade according to the market requirements for them to get good prices.
“This season no low grade tobacco will be taken by merchants. Bringing low grade tobacco to the market will be a waste of time. “Last season most farmers failed to grade their crop properly and this affected prices,” he said.
Mr Chabikwa said ZCFU had been training farmers on the correct grading to improve the quality of the tobacco.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union president, Mr Abdul Nyathi said farmers were expecting good prices this season.
“Farmers have incurred huge costs in the production, reaping and curing and they have to get good prices so they can make a profit. There are certain standards that should be followed to come up with a high quality leaf. ZFU is conducting trainings to farmers on the important aspects of tobacco production to maximise profits,” he said.
About 220 million kilogrammes of tobacco are expected this year. This is an increase from the 216 million kg that were produced in 2014.