The Herald (Harare)

22 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Tobacco Prices Firm

The prices tobacco buyers are offering at the auction floors this year have firmed with some of the crop fetching prices above US$5 a kilogramme.

Last year prices, failed to go beyond the ceiling of US$4,99/kg although some contract tobacco went over US$5/kg. Throughout the 2012 tobacco selling season, tobacco of different grades, style and quality all fetched the same price.

The industry also witnessed a difference between auction floor and contract prices for similar grades of the tobacco.

So far the Tobacco Sales Floor has registered a highest price of US$5,05 per kilogramme with the auction floors going as high as US$5,60 per kilogramme.

A number of tobacco growers this year said they expected prices at the auction floors to go above US$4,99 per kilogramme.

Hurungwe farmer, Mr Charles Madondo said there should be fairness in terms of prices being offered by buyers.

"There should be no price disparities at the floors otherwise farmers will end up selling their crop at the contrcat floors," he said.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa said it was the duty of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board to engage buyers for fair prices.

TIMB chairperson, Mrs Monica Chinamasa said higher prices are the only way to ensure growers become viable.

Mrs Chinamasa advised growers to reduce losses by establishing manageable hectares aiming to produce higher yield and quality.

"Buyers prefer clean leaf of good maturity and quality from the upper stalk.

"Therefore, it is important for growers to improve the quality of the leaf to get higher prices and to remain viable," she said.

Meanwhile, a total of 3,3 million kilogrammes of the flue cured tobacco worth US$11 million have been sold since the opening of the season last week.

This is slighty below the 3,5 million kg that had been sold during the same period last season.

About 170 million kg are expected to go under the hammer this season.

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