ZIMBABWE’S tobacco auction floors will this year open on February 19 the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said on Tuesday.
The TIMB said all tobacco should be booked in before being delivered to the auction floors and urged transporters to ensure that tobacco in transit to the markets was not damaged by rain through providing suitable tarpaulin covers or using covered vehicles.
“The opening function will be held at Tobacco Sales Floor on Wednesday 19th February 2014,” TIMB said in a statement.
At the close of the 2012/13 marketing season at least 166,5 million kgs of tobacco were sold at an average price of US$3,70 per kg, realizing US$616,1 million.
This year the country has targeted to produce at least 170 million kgs as it moves to reach the 200 million kgs that it peaked in 2000.
“All tobacco farmers are urged to ensure that they are registered and have filed their production estimates with TIMB to sell their tobacco for 2014 and avoid unnecessary delays,” the board added.
“All persons or companies who intend to transport tobacco should register with TIMB.”
Three operators are said to have applied for licenses to auction tobacco this marketing season.
Last year, three auction floors namely Boka, Premier and the Tobacco Sales Floor were licensed to sell tobacco.
Many farmers have turned to tobacco abandoning other cash crops like cotton which do not have attractive producer prices.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s major agricultural exports, accounting for 10, 7 percent of GDP in 2012.
Major export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include China, UK, South Africa, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia.
Last year Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports surged to US$331 million in August, a 13,5 percent rise compared to the same period last year.
TIMB attributed the increase in export earnings to the rise in the volume of exports.
Domestic production was also said to be rising as a result of the increase in the number of growers and tobacco hectarage.
Despite the imposition of higher excise duty and World Health Organisation concerns that have stoked fears of shrinking demand, tobacco has become an attractive crop for most Zimbabwean farmers owing to viable prices.Advertisement
Major tobacco export destinations are China, South Africa, Japan, the US and other countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.