200mln kgs expected as tobacco farmers start booking for marketing season

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AT least 200 million kilograms are expected to be sold at both public and private floors during the 2018 marketing season, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.

TIMB spokesperson, Isheunesu Moyo, told that the yield is actually lower than expected owing to a disease outbreak which hit some of crop following recent heavy rains.

“We did a crop assessment survey and on the commercial farmers, we are expecting an average of 2 300kgs per hectare of which they constitute about 30 percent of our deliveries,” said Moyo in an interview this Wednesday.

He added, “From the late planted crop we are expecting about 1 100kgs per hectare. This crop was affected by the potato virus when the heavy rains which started in February.

“The bulk of the crop comes from the rain fed crop and from that we are expecting an output of about 1 700kgs per hectare. Our general yield we put it at about 2 000kgs per hectare and we produce about 100 000 hectares in Zimbabwe.”

According to Moyo, farmers have begun visiting auction floors to book in preparation of this year’s marketing season which begins in two weeks’ time.

“The season for the 2018 marketing season is starting on the 21st of March for the auction floors and contract floors starting on the 22nd of March because we want to generate a price matrix that will be used at the contract floors. The booking actually started today and deliveries are starting next Monday,” he said.

In previous seasons, farmers were forced to sleep in the open while waiting for their payments at the floors.

Asked if the situation would be different for growers of the country’s major export earner, Moyo said the board had no mandate to speak on the central bank’s behalf regarding the payment issue.

TIMB has 23 contractors in its register and Moyo said the majority are foreign.

“From the 23, the bulky of them are those that are sourcing their monies from outside the country,” he said.

“Then we have a few ingenious companies that have been given permission by the RBZ to use money that is within Zimbabwe but the bulk of the money is coming from outside Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco will be buying in Rusape and Mashonaland Tobacco Company will be in Mvurwi and Karoi.

“We hope that we will go far in decongesting the floors in Harare,” Moyo said.