Tobacco growers pocketed a collective US$784 000 from the sale of 265 000 kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco on the first day of the 2013 tobacco selling season. The crop was sold on Wednesday at three participating auction floors, Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Floor and Premier Tobacco Floor.
TSF led with 114 000 kilogrammes sold on the first day while BTF and PTF followed with 79 000 and 71 000 kilogrammes having gone under the hammer the same day.
The sales registered an increase of 48 percent from last year"s sales of 178 000 kilogrammes worth US$633 000.
Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board indicate that the opening prices for this season were 16 percent lower than last year.
This year auction floors opened with an average price of US$2,96 per kilogramme which is lower than the US$3,56 per kilogramme offered by buyers last season.
TIMB said 3 499 bales were laid on the first day compared to 2 158 bales laid last season.
Of the 3 949 bales laid at the three auction floors, 3 571 were sold while 213 bales were rejected. There has been an increase of 27 percent in the bales that were rejected.
Bales are usually rejected for being overweight, underweight, mouldy or mixed hands (leaves from different grades).
TIMB chairperson Mrs Chinamasa has advised tobacco growers to reduce losses by establishing manageable hectares aiming to produce higher yield and quality.
"The dynamics and requirements of our major export markets are changing. We are aware that they now prefer clean leaf of good maturity and quality from the upper stalk," she said.
Mrs Chinamasa said it was important for growers to improve the quality of the crop to get higher prices and remain viable.
"I also urge growers to invest in efficient curing facilities- we see good crop in the field but less good quality on the sales floors.
"Growers should also invest in grading and presentation facilities or skills. About half of the bales rejected in 2012 were declared "mixed hands". This compromises the price offered and the buyers final export product," she said.
About 170 million kilogrammes of tobacco are expected to be sold during the 2013 season as the country moves towards regaining its status as one of the major producers of tobacco.