The 2016 tobacco selling season will this year open on March 30 with 160 million kilogrammes expected to go under the hammer. Already auction floors have indicated their readiness for the marketing season.Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairperson, Mrs Monica Chinamasa announced the opening dates at a field day held at Mubaiwa farm in Beatrice.
Mrs Chinamasa said the dates were shifted due to the drought conditions that have affected the country.
“The 2016 tobacco selling season will open on March 30. A total of 23 buyers have been licensed to buy on the auction floors and 15 merchants have been approved for contract sales,” she said.
Traditionally auction floors opened mid February so farmers could be cushioned from cash shortages. Last year the floors opened on March 4.
“In preparation for smooth marketing I urge all growers to register on time, submit estimates and to book for sales before delivery. For transportation of tobacco to the markets, growers are encouraged to engage registered transporters who are paid through deductions from the sales proceeds,” she said.
She advised farmers to adapt to climate change to maintain tobacco production and yield per hectare.
“I call on all stakeholders and Government entities to invest in tobacco irrigation to farmers with irrigable land to maintain our tobacco production in the country.
“The installation of drip irrigation system will also have a positive impact on food security besides improving productivity and quality,” she said.
She added that water conservation techniques such as potholing and mulching can be used.
“We are going to do inspections to make sure that auction floors are completely done to offer best service to farmers,” she said.
In its efforts to adapt to climate change, TIMB and Agribank have established a revolving fund for the development and installation of drip irrigation for small-scale growers.