By The Herald
Hind Siam Herald Reporter
Over 100 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth $289,8 million have been sold by farmers since the opening of the season.
The tobacco was sold at an average price of $2,87 per kilogramme. According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board latest statistics, there has been an increase of 4,98 percent in the volumes of tobacco sold compared to the crop sold during the same period last year when 96 million kilogrammes valued at $268 million were sold at an average price of $2,79.
The TIMB statistics also show that the bulk of the crop has been sold through the contract floors with 85 million kilogrammes sold through contract while 16 million kilogrammes went under the hammer at the auction floors.
The highest price offered at the contract floors is $6,25 per kilogramme compared to the $4,99 per kilogramme on offer at the auction floors.
So far 104 327 bales have been rejected while 78,381 were rejected during the same period last year, an increase of 33 percent.
TIMB said the bales are usually rejected for being overweight or underweight, too wet or too dry, mouldy, mixed hands or when farmers refused to sell the tobacco for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, Government has warned farmers to destroy tobacco stalks to avoid the spread of pests and diseases or risk being imprisoned, writes our Senior Agricultural Reporter Elita Chikwati.
Tobacco farmers are supposed to have destroyed tobacco stalks by May 15 of every year to reduce the carryover of pests and diseases from one season to another.
In a recent statement, the Ministry of Lands, Rural and Agriculture Resettlement, Department of Research and Specialist Services in conjunction with TIMB urged farmers to follow the tobacco legislated dates.
“Destruction of stalks helps to reduce carryover of diseases and pests. This is most effective when tobacco stalks are destroyed immediately after the final harvest,” read the statement.
Tobacco growers who fail to destroy tobacco stalks should be reported to the DRSS Plant Quarantine Services, Agritex, Tobacco Research Board or TIMB.
According to Government, growers should observe that the earliest date for sowing seed is June 1, transplanting September 1 and last day of destroying seedbeds December 31 of every year.
TIMB corporate communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo yesterday said the board will soon conduct awareness campaigns to educate farmers on why they should adhere to the legislated dates.
“We are organising field days to increase awareness in conjunction with the department of the DRSS and Agritex. There are punitive measures taken against people who ignore the legislated dates.
For contravention of regulations on the destruction of stalks, for a first offence, there is a fine not exceeding $100 for each hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both such fine and such imprisonment
For a second or subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding $200 per hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Government recently urged tobacco farmers to be responsible and adhere to laid down regulations, especially on destroying stalks and crop residue, to avoid the spread of pests and diseases that might adversely affect a viable industry that has immensely contributed to the well-being of the economy.