Tobacco Sales Decline By 21pc

Farmers have sold a cumulative 171 million kg of tobacco worth US$425 million, which is 21 percent lower than the crop traded during the same period last year when 216 million kg worth US$423 million were traded.

Volumes of tobacco deliveries to the auction floors have declined, as most farmers have already sold their crop.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) last week said the selling season was drawing to an end owing to the decline in the daily volumes.

TIMB reduced the number of auction days to three and advised farmers to speed up grading and deliveries of the crop for sale.

“With immediate effect, licensed auction floors will open for three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday until August 28,” said the board. “Thereafter, auction floors will be done as advised by the auction floors once they have booked and received sizeable numbers of bales to constitute a sale.”

TIMB is yet to announce the closing dates for the floors.

Farmers’ unions confirmed that most farmers, especially smallholders, had sold their crop and were now concentrating on seedbeds ahead of planting next month.

Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe president, Mr George Seremwe said most of the smallholder farmers had sold their crop.

He said some farmers were also now following the exchange rate and preferred to sell after the forex auction which takes place on Tuesday, to boost their earnings.

“Commercial farmers are still bringing their crop to the floors,” he said. “We have noted some improvements in the payment system at the auction floors.”

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive, Mr Rodney Ambrose, recently said deliveries had reached their peak and suggested a bi-weekly forex auction.

“A weekly (forex) rate could result in speculation, with farmers delivering only on days after the auction and withholding on days prior to the day of auction,” he said.

The Second Crop Assessment report shows that tobacco production is expected to decline slightly from the record 259 530 million kg delivered last year, to 224 158 million kg this season due to reduced planted area and erratic rains experienced.

Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually, employing many people and improving livelihoods, especially of rural people.

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