Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter 

Farmers earned US$243 503 from the sale of 94 453 kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco on the first day of the 2022 marketing season yesterday.

This is an increase of 40,54 percent from the US$173 256 earned by farmers after selling 92 106 kilogrammes of tobacco on the first day last year.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics show that this year, prices are firmer than those offered last year.

On the first day of the 2022 marketing season, the average price was US$2,58 per kg compared to US$1, 88 per kg last year.

Auction sales were conducted at the Tobacco Sales Floor and Premier Tobacco Floors.

Boka tobacco floors will open next week Monday to pave way for construction activities adjacent to the premises.

On Wednesday, 82 387 kilogrammes worth US$ 217 761 were sold at the TSF while at PTF 12 066 kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$25 742 were sold.

The highest price on the opening day was US$4,96 per kg compared to US$4, 01 kg offered on the same day last year.

The lowest price was US$0,80 per kg compared to US$0.60 per kg last year.

TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu said this year prices were expected to firm due to the reduced volumes.

“Brazil is likely to be 80 million kilogrammes short of their usual production level because of drought. This creates less competition for us. India has fixed its 2021-22 production of Flue Cured Virginia up to 270 million kilogrammes, against 236 million kg in the previous year.

“Due to anticipated reduced volumes in Zimbabwe this season, there will be more pressure on the demand side to take the crop, which should naturally increase prices upwards. This is likely to be experienced in the medium to filler grades.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association in statement said with the significant drop in production in 2022, reduced uncommitted stock levels and a post Covid-19 recovery in demand, prices would be firmer this season.

“In Brazil prices are significantly up on 2021 with almost single grading and loose-leaf deliveries. The Brazilian Real (BRL) has appreciated by 10 percent over the year and this has resulted in an expensive crop for a fair quality crop.

“For Zimbabwe, all of the above dynamics point to much firmer prices this season. While there may be minimal upward movement in top leaf prices, especially China grades, there will be strong demand for the middle and bottom plant positions,” said ZTA.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union executive secretary, Mr Paul Zakariya, said the opening of tobacco floors was normally one that went without many challenges.

“Forex retention of 75 percent continues to present challenges to farmers. The balance payable in ZWL at the interbank rate represents serious erosion of value. Prices of most commodities are indexed to the USD. Discussion around this issue should be pursued,” he said.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Anxious Masuka, called or discipline and fairness in the tobacco industry.

“All stakeholders should act to eliminate the perceived farmer deprivation while enhancing transparency and fairness in tobacco sales at both contract and auction sales.

“Reports of higher prices at contract sales compared to auction sales for similar grade and reports of collusion by merchants and manoeuvres by middlemen to re-handle tobacco bought cheaply from farmers should be a thing of the past.

“I am recommending the TIMB Inspectorate Unit to continue to work with other security agencies to eliminate these vices.

“Discipline must return to this important industry.

“Contractors should provide the prescribed minimum support package for both smallholder and commercial farmers and farmers must repay this support through delivery of the crop to contractors while avoiding side-marketing,” he said.

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