Farmers slow tobacco deliveries

21 Apr, 2016 - 00:04 0 Views

The Herald

Deliveries of tobacco have remained sluggish at the three auction floors in the capital raising fears that farmers may be holding onto the crop at the farms in anticipation of firmer prices. A survey conducted by New Ziana found that some farmers were holding onto tobacco at the farms anticipating that prices of the crop will firm while others were not sure whether the payment system introduced this year would work properly.The last tobacco selling season was characterised by low prices which resulted in farmers protesting while buyers argued that the quality of the leaf was poor.

Farmers in the Trelawney area of Mapinga, Mashonaland West Province, about 14 kilometres south west of Banket on the Harare-Chinhoyi railway line, told New Ziana that they were holding onto their tobacco until prices at the auction floors firmed.

Tizi Mulauzi of Ziroto farm said the season had been tough as she had to sell cattle to finance her tobacco so she expected the best prices for the crop hence the wait and see attitude.

“I have finished curing, grading and baling my tobacco but cannot sell it yet because I hear prices are still low,” she said.

Another farmer, Patrick Melusi said he was discouraged by the payment system which was meeting with challenges such as cash withdrawal limits.

“We need immediate cash to pay workers and finance land preparation so with reports we are getting that cash is in short supply, we have to wait a bit before selling our tobacco,” he said.

Melusi however welcomed the new payment system saying it would go a long way in assisting farmers to use sale proceeds wisely.

Tracy Makanza, another small scale farmer said she was still curing tobacco for sale.

“I hope my good quality tobacco fetches the best price,” she said.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri confirmed that deliveries were low at auction floors compared to be same period last season.

“Tobacco deliveries are much slower this time of the year. This is because the season was delayed so tobacco is still there in the fields being cured,” he said.

Dr Matibiri said deliveries were so low that floors were receiving about a third of what they used to get at the same in previous seasons.

For instance Tobacco Sales Floor was receiving 4 500 bales per day down from about 12 000 at peak last year while Boka Tobacco Floors was receiving less than 2 000 bales per day and at Premier Tobacco Floors at least 1 000 bales were are being delivered daily.

“Deliveries are way too slow, we hope once all farmers finish curing tobacco, the situation can improve,” he said.

He however denied that low prices were discouraging farmers from delivering their crop.

“Tobacco prices are firmer than last year. We however experienced teething problems with the new payment system but with the intervention of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, farmers can withdraw their money same day at banks,” said Dr Matibiri. — New Ziana.

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