By Mellisa Mutasa
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) is consulting stakeholders on possible dates for the start of the 2018 marketing season, an official has said.
TIMB corporate communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo said the consultations will be done over two weeks after which possible dates will be forwarded to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement for consideration. Mr Moyo said tobacco farmers were still reaping and curing their crop.
“We want to give farmers ample time to finish harvesting before the opening date and we expect more volumes this year considering the number of registrations, which have surpassed 100 000 growers,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union advised farmers to book their tobacco ahead of time to avoid complications and confusion when the floors open. ZFU executive director, Mr Paul Zakaria, said the 2018 selling season was likely to surpass the 2017 season in terms of sales and quality of the crop, while farmers expected firmer prices.
“We are also expecting farmers to be paid reasonable prices for their crop. I advise farmers to take good care of their crop during the reaping and curing process to retain the value and quality of the crop,” he said.
Mr Zakaria advised farmers to sell their crop through the formal channels and not to middlemen. Tobacco production has been on increase due to the favourable prices offered by buyers, especially under contract farming.
The bulk of the crop is produced under contract farming where farmers are given inputs and offered higher prices than those offered at auction floors, resulting in them receiving higher volumes of tobacco than auction floors.
Government has moved in to assist smallholder farmers experiencing financial problems with loans. The move is expected to improve tobacco deliveries to auction floors.