Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The opening of the 2016 tobacco selling season is likely to be delayed as most farmers are not ready for the market, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.
Tobacco auction floors normally open mid-February, but last year opened early March due to the ill-preparedness of farmers for the market.
TIMB communications manager, Mr Isheunesu Moyo said although the results of the second crop assessment survey were not out, it was unlikely that the auction floors would open early this year.
“The results of the second round crop assessment are not yet out. The survey does not only determine the crop size, but also look into the stage at which the crop is. The outcome, therefore will determine when the marketing season begins,” he said.
Mr Moyo confirmed that most farmers were behind schedule because the season had started late.
“We are not yet thinking of opening because of the late season,” he said.
Drought has affected the tobacco crop this season.
This has resulted in the decline of the area put under the crop from 93 419 hectares last season to 89 500 hectares this year.
According to the Zimbabwe Farmers Union weekly market guide, tobacco farmer registrations have also declined by 20 percent.
“Drought affected the dryland crop as rains were delayed while some farmers had to reduce the hectarage put under tobacco this season due to unfavourable prices offered by buyers last season. The current situation is that there is a decline in the total area planted between the two years by a significant 4 percent to 3 860ha.
“Lack of confidence in the market prices and poor rains are some of the reasons the area planted has gone down. This is witnessed by the drop in the number of registered growers for the 2015/2016 season,” read the guide.