MORE than 45 million kilograms of tobacco have gone under the hammer at the country’s three main auction floors since the beginning of the 2013 tobacco selling season, with prices picking up to end the week averaging at US$3,74 per kilogramme.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board g chief executive Andrew Matibiri said deliveries have, since the Easter break, started to pick up mainly from small-holder farmers with large scale farmers expected to start making deliveries starting next week.
“This means there was a total inflow of a U$170 million into the country and this compares favourably with last year’s figures where by this time we had sold round-about 36 million kilograms of tobacco at an average price of US$3,70.
“Again the average prices per day at all auction floors for both the contract and auction floors was around US$3,80 per kilogramme which again is higher than last year’s average price per day”, said Matibiri.
Matibiri also revealed that the number of tobacco growers initially said to be around 70,000 for this season, the figure look set to be surpassed as by the 28th of March the board had registered a total of 82,000 farmers.
“Last year by this time we had registered just over 56,000 growers, so there has been a big increase in the number of growers. This growth is coming from the small holder farmers, the A1 and the communal farmers who are diversifying into tobacco production”, he said.
He also said there has been a marked improvement in the quality of the crop delivered so far despite the wet spell which tended to affect some tobacco growers adding the initial target of tobacco expected to go under the hammer this season was likely to be broken.
“We have also been setting new records this season, just before the Easter break we were selling over 3,5million kg’s of tobacco daily at our three auction floors.
Last year at peak were averaging around 1,6 million kg’s so they has been a marked improvement”, he said.
In the 2012/13 marketing season, a total of 144 million kgs of tobacco were sold, earning the country over US$525 million dollars.
The high returns from the crop attracted a number of smallholder famers with the TIMB adjusting upwards projected production to 170 million kg for this season.
South Africa has bought 7,6 million kgs of the crop valued at US$23million with exports to United Arab Emirates reaching US$16,1 million while Chinese merchants bought $5 million with of tobacco, according to TIMB statistics.Advertisement
Growers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com however expressed concern over the slow manner in which payments were being processed with some saying they have had to spend over three days waiting for cheques to be honoured.
“We came here on Tuesday but we were only able to sell our tobacco yesterday (Friday). We are incurring a lot of expenses because of the delays,” said Philemon Tembo from Guruve.