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Huge progress as tobacco sales hit over US$800m

by Staff reporter
22 Jun 2023 at 01:35hrs | Views
Over 270 million kg of tobacco worth US$817 million have been sold at the auction and contract floors since the beginning of the marketing season in March, with a lot of money flowing into the tobacco farming areas.

This year farmers had a target of 230 million kg of tobacco compared to 212million kg produced last year and the crop so far sold has significantly exceeded that target, with more tobacco expected to be sold before the season closes.

Statistics from Tobacco Industries and Marketing Board TIMB indicate that this is an increase of 52 percent from 177million kg sold during the same period in 2022 at a value of US$169 million dollars.

Tobacco growers are happy with the selling prices obtaining at the floors and majority are saying that this is a good marketing season for farmers compared to last season.

Most farmers were happy with the grading and pricing at contract floors, where the highest price was US$6,10 and auction floors where the highest price was US$4,99.

This season, TIMB is on an accelerated drive to ensure orderly tobacco marketing and end tobacco side marketing. The overwhelming bulk of the crop is exported, with Zimbabweans only smoking a tiny percentage.

Mrs Marjory Munengerwa of Rusape was happy that this year's average prices were above the previous season at US$3,02 per kg.

 "The prices are hovering around US$3,02 per kg and we hope they will improve as the marketing season progresses. If the prices continue like this, we will manage to go back to the field again," said Mrs Munengerwa.

Mrs Munengerwa said farmers who did not follow proper agronomic practices in growing tobacco were the ones whose crop did not fetch better prices.

She said all processes need to be followed to ensure good quality tobacco.

"Farmers have a tendency to skip other processes. This will compromise the quality of the leaf hence fetching low prices at the floors. It is advisable to work with experts such as extension workers to ensure that processes are properly followed leading to a fruitful production. As farmers we tend to ignore but this will be a disaster when the marketing season comes. Nothing fruitful can be achieved," she said.

Mrs Priscilla Gurure of Uzumba in Murehwa said she sold only eight bales but she is planning to send her grandchild to a boarding school adding that the money she acquired from selling tobacco is unbelievable.

" I could not believe my eyes because the amount l received so far is going to transform my family. My grandson is in form one so l am planning to find a good school for him. I am grateful for Premier Tobacco Auction Floors. We are getting our money soon after selling our tobacco. We are proud of this company. So far we have not witnessed any unfair practices at this company," she said. Another farmer from Darwendale Ms Peggy Munaiwa said farmers were happy to get payments on time so that they embark on other productions which need funding.

 "Delays in payment can cause disastrous results in other projects. We are appealing to the authorities to ensure that we get payments on time. Side marketing should also be addressed as well as corruption so that we continue sustaining tobacco farming.

 Zimbabwe generates US$1 billion annually from tobacco exports and the sector has in recent years been critical in sustaining the economy through improving the much-needed foreign currency reserves.

The country exports to over 60 countries around the world, among them China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, United States of America, Brazil, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Egypt, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Lesotho

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president, Mr Victor Mariranyika said all farmers were looking forward to a rewarding tobacco marketing season adding that it is critical for farmers to avoid side marketing.

He said the pricing model should take in consideration the production cost in order to sustain farmers.

"Farmers should soldier on and learn to bargain for the real value of their crop. Prices should improve to enable farmers to go back to the fields. There is a need to review the prices so that they meet costs of production. Next season we are looking for a favourable marketing season. Side marketing is the other issue which needs to be addressed to farmers because farmers prefer where they are highly paid.

The 85 percent foreign currency retention increase is surely appreciated, "he said. Zimbabwe produces 6 percent of the world's tobacco and is the fourth largest grower.

A target of increasing tobacco production to 300 million kg per year has been set amid plans to transform the sector into a US$5 billion industry by 2025.

Source - The Herald