The Herald (Harare)

21 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Premier Ready for Selling Season

ONE of the three tobacco auction floors licensed to operate this year, Premier Tobacco Auction Floors, says it is ready for the 2013 selling season, which is likely to start in mid-February. Premier's managing director, Mr Philemon Mangena, said that all their systems were ready for the forthcoming season.

"We have been checking and testing all our systems and I am confident that we are ready.

"As you are aware there are three auction floors that have been licensed to operate this year instead of four as was the case last year, so our main aim is to use that opportunity to increase the volume of tobacco that will pass through our floors this year," he said.

Mr Mangena said that they were keen to build on the success of the previous season when the auction floor started operating.

"We started operating last year and we managed to do quite well in terms of volumes and our operations which endeared us to some farmers.

"This year we want to leverage on that success and hopefully those farmers that came through last year have been spreading the word out there," he said.

Mr Mangena said their emphasis would be on ensuring that farmers received prompt attention, as was the case last year.

"We are aware that farmers want efficient service especially prompt payment of their money once their tobacco is sold and we have made that our top priority," he said.

Tobacco production is set to increase as more farmers are turning to production of the crop due to attractive prices being offered.

As of December 2012, more than 60 000 farmers had registered to grow tobacco, 20 000 of whom were first time growers.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has set a target of 170 million kg this year.

The country produced about 144,5 million kg of tobacco against a projection of 130 million kg last year.

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