Grace Mahora Herald Reporter
FARMERS have earned US$494,9 million from the sale of 163,7 million kilogrammes of tobacco since the opening of the marketing season in March.
While production dropped 10 percent, farmers’ income fell just 0,5 percent as prices firmed by almost as much as the fall in volumes. The latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that sales declined form the 180,5 million kilogrammes valued at US$497.2 million sold during the same period last year, but the drop in what was paid has fallen only marginally.
TIMB chief executive Mr Meanwell Gudu said a poor rainfall season as a result of climate change had contributed to reduced yields this year.
“The decline in volumes is attributed to the poor quality of the rainfall season which was characterised by lateness, incessant rains followed by mid-season drought so it compromises the yield of the crop.
“Overally the quality is quite good as shown in the average price which is 10 percent firmer as compared to the same time last year,” he said.
Prices at auction floors are moderately firmer compared to contract floor prices, although the highest prices have been obtained on the contract floors, reflecting the greater range of quality in the contract crop.
The average price at the auction floor on day 61 (Tuesday) was US$3,13/kg compared to US$3.01/kg on the contract floors on the same day.
But while the highest price at the auction floor is US$4,99/kg the top contract farmer obtained US$6.80/kg.
The contract system continues to dominate the industry. So far farmers have sold 10,6 million kg for US$34,4million through the auction floors while the contracted growers have sold 153 million kg for US$460,5 million.
Zimbabwe Integration Commercial Farmers Union president Mrs Maivepi Jiti said the tobacco season was now coming to an end.
“As the tobacco season is almost ending, the number of farmers selling tobacco is decreasing each day. Almost 75 percent of tobacco growers have sold their tobacco so far with a few small scale farmers yet to sell.”
In recent years as small-scale growers and A2 farmers in tobacco areas push the crop, tobacco production has risen well above the volumes recorded by plantation owners before land reform.
Tobacco is one of the major sources of foreign currency from the agricultural sector contributing almost US$800 million every year.