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Zimbabwe's tobacco floors raring to go

by Staff reporter
01 Apr 2021 at 06:09hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S tobacco auction floors and contracting firms yesterday said they were ready for the opening of this year's marketing season next week.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement minister Vangelis Peter Haritatos toured Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco and the Chinese giant, TianZE Tobacco Company, to assess their state of preparedness ahead of the opening of the marketing season next

"Today we are very happy with what we have seen," Haritatos told NewsDay Business after the tour.

"All the three tobacco auction floors are on top of the game. This year they have increased efficiencies.

"The most important part of the preparation is the COVID-19.

"We know that the tobacco auction floors are organised.

"We were looking at the regulations that we put in place because we want to safeguard the lives of our people. Our growers are very important to us.

"So what we have seen is that the regulations are being followed and we commend the tobacco industry at large for such great steps. This year we have improved regulations," he said.

This year's marketing season comes after several lockdowns implemented since March last year to control the spread of COVID-19.

According to regulations set by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board to combat the spread of COVID-19, farmers shall be notified of their tentative selling time at the point of booking and only one farmer or representative attends the sale.

Sales floors shall accept tobacco deliveries from 6am to 5pm, with trucks arriving afterwards being turned away.

No vendors or flea markets shall be allowed at all tobacco floors.

"We are expecting a better quality crop this year," Haritatos said.

"You know we have come out of two consecutive years of drought, that means at some stage our dams ran out of water, so the quality of our produce this year will be better.
"I don't know the tonnage yet. We have to see what comes out of the sales.

"It might be slightly reduced. What we are expecting is a higher average price," he said.

TSF general manager Kennedy Zimunya said no farmers would be accommodated at the premises.

"We are not encouraging farmers to sit in for food as well," Zimunya said.

"We do not want farmers to spend time at the floors, but just deliver and go.

"We will be in touch with law enforcement agencies to clamp down on vendors milling around the premises."

He said TSF had decentralised auction floors into Marondera and Karoi for the convinience of farmers so that they don't travel long distances to the sales floors.

TianZE managing director Ye Hai said the company, which has traditionally supported large-scale farmers, had taken a deliberate move to support small-scale farmers this year.

"We have started to support small-scale farmers this year. If it works well, we will increase numbers.

"For our farmers, they are happy that there is an increase in the percentage of foreign currency that they are given by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," he said.

Source - newsday