At least 17 out of 19 tobacco contractors have stopped trading, signalling the end of the 2014 marketing season. The two merchants still trading are also winding down operations as they clear a few bookings by their customers.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board licensed 19 contractors during the 2014 selling season.
TIMB director technical services, Mr Meanwell Gudu, said Northern Tobacco and Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco were the only firms still trading.
“Only two contractors ZLT and NT are still trading. The merchants are receiving an average of 2 000 bales per week, he said.
Statistics from the TIMB show that seasonal contract sales have increased to 165 million kilogrammes of tobacco. Production under this mode of farming has surged to 215, 7 million kg compared to 165,5 million kg produced during the same period last year.
TIMB states that the 2014 seasonal production is likely to increase further since the remaining merchants are still selling an average of 2 000 bales per sale per week.
Top on the list of the buyers is the Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco, which bought 35,2 million kg of tobacco worth $107 million followed by Mashonaland Tobacco Company, which purchased 31, 5 million kg worth $96 million. Northern Tobacco bought 29 million kg worth $107 million.
Tianze Tobacco Company paid the highest average price of $3, 90 per kilogramme.
To date, about 67 560 growers have registered for 2015 season compared to 61 906 who had registered by the same period last year.
Farmers have also bought 986 grammes of tobacco seed, which covers 164 932 hectares.
This is a decline of 1,9 percent compared to the same period last year where 1008 grammes of seed covering 168 163 ha had been sold .
Tobacco production is on the increase owing to contract farming where farmers are given inputs with buyers offering favourable prices.
Farmers in other sectors of agriculture find it difficult to access funding from financial institutions and have preferred to work with contractors and merchants.