83 000 farmers eye windfall

Grace Kaerasora
At least 83 000 tobacco farmers will from Wednesday start selling their crop at auction floors in Harare, Karoi and Mvurwi, signalling the start of a five-month 2017 tobacco marketing season.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) corporate communications manager, Mr Isheunesu Moyo told The Sunday Mail that they were ready for the season.

“On Friday (last week) we had an inspection of auction floors. We have 29 905 registered farmers under auction and 53 273 registered under contract bringing the total to about 83 000. People have been booking with the e-marketing system and we have been doing mock sales, so we are ready to go.

“Farmers came for the trials and they were generally excited. All players are registered and come Wednesday we start the sales,” he said.

Boka Tobacco Floors operations manager, Mr Moses Bias said the company had already started receiving tobacco bales. “We are ready for the season to start and we are hoping by Sunday night (tonight), we would have received the bulk of the bales as some have already started coming,” he said.

“We were doing mock runs and testing the system with TIMB so we just want to make sure all systems will be working perfectly so as to increase efficiency in paying farmers earlier.”

Premier Tobacco Auction Floor chief executive officer Philemon Mangena anticipated a good season.

“Our systems are working, what remains is for the farmer to come on board, otherwise we are ready and we expect a good season obviously because of the good rains, we are expecting much more tobacco than last year,” he said. Tobacco farmers have since welcomed the e-marketing system that eradicates middlemen who have been ripping them off over the years. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said: “We believe and know this system (e-marketing) will get rid of corruption as well as make us as farmers prepare and know how much our tobacco fetches.” Tobacco is one of the country’s biggest foreign currency earners, raking in nearly US$1 billion last year.

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