Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The 2021 tobacco selling season has officially begun with the first bale fetching US$4, 30 per kilogramme.
Last year the first bale was auctioned at US$4 per kilogramme.
As was the case last year, sales will run under the strict Covid-19 guidelines developed by the tobacco industry with guidance from Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka presided over the official opening which was also attended by his deputy Douglas Karoro, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairman Pat Devenish and CEO Dr Andrew Matibiri, Tobacco research Board chief executive, Dr Dahlia Garwe, farmers’ unions and farmers among others.
Stakeholders said they were satisfied by the opening day proceedings and expected prices to firm as the season progresses.
All auction floors conducted sales and said they were expecting deliveries to intensify in the next days.
Premier Tobacco Floors executive director Mr Owen Murambi said last year they received kess tna 100 bales at the opeing day but this season they had 450 bales.
“The crop was affected by excessive rain but we expect prices to improve as the season progresses.
“We have implemented all the Covoid-19 regulations and Boka Tobacco Floors managing director, Mrs Chido Nyakudya said she was happy with the prices on the first day.
“We had ,ow volumes of tobacco today because we have opened up floors in Karoi, Mvurwi and Rusape. We expect more farmers to sell through our decentralised floors.
“The prices so far are fair and we expect them to improve as we go further into the season,” she said.
Mr Devenish said the tobacco industry and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had jointly put in place improved payment measures to ensure tobacco growers get full value for their crop and were simultaneously paid within the shortest possible time.
Gowers are this year getting 60 percent of their money in foreign currency and 40 percent will be converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale ad paid in local currency.
“I urge all growers to abide by the marketing regulations that include submitting production estimates and registrations on time, to use TIMB registered transporters and also to refrain from dealing with unscrupulous individuals at the floors,” he said.
TIMB licensed 28 A class buyers and 39 contract buyers.
The board has also approved decentralised contract sales to be conducted at five designated centres; Karoi, Mvurwi, Bindura, Marondera and Rusape.