Tobacco deliveries have surpassed the 181 million kilogrammes mark as contract floors continue to receive deliveries despite the curtain coming down on the selling season for auction floors late last month.
The 2020 tobacco auction season closed on August 28.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said it will announce the clean-up sale dates this month.
TIMB latest statistics shows the 181 million kilogrammes of tobacco grossed US$452 million.
The crop received so far is 24 percent less than the 238 million kilogrammes worth US$472 million that had been sold by farmers during the same period last season.
This season, the auction floors did not sell huge volumes of the crop due to the decentralisation, which was implemented to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On day 89, farmers had sold 171,5 million kg of tobacco worth US$426 million through the contract floors, while auction floors sold a cumulative 9,1 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth US$27,7 million.
The highest price offered by buyers at the auction floors remained at US$4,99 per kg, while that of the contract floors was US$6,60 per kg.
The bulk of tobacco was produced under contract system.
Most farmers said contract farming has remained the most viable option since they receive inputs on time and are able to go back to the land even when prices of inputs go up.
Most contractors also have extension officers who are on the ground, monitoring the production of their crop and this reduces side marketing and also improves the quality of the leaf.
Financial institutions do not want to lend money to individual farmers.
The situation is made worse by the fact that some institutions do not accept 99-year leases as collateral.
Most farmers do not meet the requirements to access funding from loans as individuals, so they end up opting for contract farming.
Tobacco production has been on the increase for the past years largely due to an organised contract system.
Agriculture experts have also attributed the success of the tobacco industry to Government policies and the land reform which increased the number of tobacco farmers, involvement of contractors who bring inputs on time and expert advice from agriculture extension workers.
The Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report states that tobacco production is expected to decline slightly from the record 259 530 tonnes produced last year to 224 158 tonnes this season due to the reduced area planted and the erratic rains received last season.