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TIMB announces 2024 tobacco marketing season opening If the average price continues on this trajectory, then last season’s total sales of US$897 million can be achieved from the sale of 252 million kilogrammes of the leaf. (File Picture)

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

IT was exciting news for tobacco farmers yesterday after the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) revealed that March 13, 2024 will mark the long-anticipated opening of the auction floors with their contract counterparts set to follow a day later.

In a letter written to all tobacco stakeholders, TIMB acting chief executive officer, Mr Emmanuel Matsvaire said: “All stakeholders are advised that the 2024 auction tobacco marketing season opens on Wednesday March 13. Contract tobacco sales will commence on March 14.

“A brief ceremony to mark the start of the 2024 tobacco marketing season will be held on Wednesday March 13. The venue, time and programme for the ceremony will be circulated in due course.”

Last year the tobacco marketing season started on March 8 for auction floors and March 9 for the contract side.

TIMB public affairs officer, Mrs Chelesani Tsarwe said the state of preparedness for the 2024 tobacco marketing would be sent out once finalised.

Statistics from TIMB show that farmers had planted 113 101 hectares under the crop by February 2, a four percent decline from last year’s 117 645.

Meanwhile, some farmers welcomed the announcement of the dates saying that would help improve liquidity in the market.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) chief executive officer, Mr Rodney Ambrose observed that March 13 was a suitable date to start the marketing of the crop saying they would see a significant portion of the irrigated crop delivered, followed by the early dryland during the first weeks. He added that they expected the market to be significantly firmer than previous seasons to counter the high production costs.

Yield and quality of the crop vary across the board due to varied weather patterns in the tobacco growing districts, but it’s a very saleable crop, he said referring to the impact that the El Nino weather pattern had on the crop.

“Because of the alternating wet and dry conditions throughout the growing season, there has been a significant increase in pests and diseases and Kutsaga has been actively informing growers of the remedies,” the ZTA boss said.

“Weather extremities have also greatly reduced production from some of our competitors, notably Brazil and this accompanied by the demand for Zimbabwe’s flue-cured crop, will likely cause prices to be high.”

Mr Ambrose said they had engagements with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) requesting for an upward review of the retention component from the current 75 percent.

The Government standardised all export retentions to 75 percent with the balance of 25 percent liquidated at the ruling interbank rate. Last year farmers retained 85 percent of their earnings in foreign currency, with the 15 percent balance liquidated into local currency.

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