Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
Tobacco deliveries to the auction floors have increased with growers earning a cumulative of US$228 million from the sale of 77 million kg as of last week, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board statistics (TIMB).
This comes as 95 percent of the crop is expected to be sold through the contract floors and five percent through the auction floors.
The statistics indicated that farmers have sold 5 546 180kg of tobacco worth US$17 458 282 through the auction floors while 71 208 694 million kg worth US$210 520 674 was sold through the contract floors.
Last year during the same period, farmers had sold 93 685 581 million kg of tobacco worth US$249,9million.
This season, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board registered 123 595 farmers, down from the 145 625 growers for the last season, although not all registered growers actually plant anything.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said deliveries have picked even though there are complaints about prices.
“There are so far no major challenges at the floors, there is high activity and deliveries are picking even though farmers feel that their crop should fetch higher prices. This time around, marketing logistics greatly improved and concerns around producer prices and timely payments continue to rise,’he said.
This season, tobacco farmers will be paid three-quarters of their sales proceeds in foreign currency and the remaining quarter in local currency, converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale.
The 75 percent will be paid directly into the growers’ foreign currency accounts and this is treated as free funds while the 25 percent local currency will be deposited into the growers’ local bank accounts or e-wallets. Growers were last season getting 60 percent of their money in foreign currency and 40 percent was converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale and paid in local currency.
TIMB statistics show that this year, prices are firmer than those offered last year due to reduced volumes.
Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually.
The growing of the crop contributes significantly to improving the livelihoods of many people, especially those in rural areas, as it now involves thousands of farmers and employs many people.