19 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Tobacco Selling Season Opens

Photo: The Herald
Tobacco farmers.

The 2014 tobacco selling season will open today with 47 percent of the crop expected to come from communal farmers.

Stakeholders have expressed confidence that the 2014 selling season would surpass last season in terms of sales and quality of the crop while farmers expect firmer prices.

Three auction floors; Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Floors and Premier Tobacco Floors would be operating this season.

Auction floors operators said they were ready for the selling season and had satisfied the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board requirements.

TIMB expects an auction floor to have banking facilities, proper accommodation and ablution facilities for farmers, clinics and up to standard canteens among other things. According to the TIMB, 89 624 growers have registered for the 2014 marketing season.

Of the registered growers, 47 percent are from the communal sector, 34 percent from the A1, 11 percent from the A2 and 8 percent small scale farming sector.

Farmers started delivering their crop for sale on Monday and by yesterday, the auction floors had received above 1 000 bales each.

Tobacco Sales Floor managing director, Mr James Mutambanesango said some of the farmers who have delivered their crop are not registered while others had not sent their crop estimates.

TIMB had to dispatch teams to the floor to register the growers.

This season farmers who register after the opening of the tobacco auction floors have to pay US$250 as a fine. It costs US$10 to register as a tobacco grower.

Premier Tobacco Floors managing director Mr Philemon Mangena said the floor had received 1 400 bales by yesterday afternoon and more bales were expected later in the day.

Boka Tobacco Floors operations director Mr Moses Bias assured farmers that the floor would have enough cash.

"We have eight banks that will be operating from here and we have asked each bank to provide at least five tellers which means that we will have 40 tellers who will be serving 40 farmers every two minutes," he said.

Auction floor operators and other service providers in the tobacco industry this year carried out several trainings and meeting with farmers to equip them with knowledge on the selling of the crop. The teams were teaching farmers on agronomic practices from growing of tobacco up to the presentation of the crop for sale.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa encouraged farmers to bank their money and plan before spending their money.

"It is sad that tobacco growers get their money once in a year and most of the times they do not put it to good use.

"Farmers should calculate their profits and spend their money wisely," he said. A number of tobacco growers have fallen prey to unscrupulous business people.

TIMB board chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa expressed satisfaction with the state of preparedness of the floors especially the provision made for re-handling of tobacco.

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