The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) expects up to $700 million in foreign currency from merchants for the purchase of the golden leaf during the 2016/2017 tobacco marketing season.
Source: Merchants to mobilise $700m for tobacco purchases – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 13, 2017
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Speaking at the state of preparedness of the 2017 marketing season, TIMB chairperson Monica Chinamasa said she believes the $700 million amount could be attained this season.
“Foreign currency which has been mobilised from outside, last year it was about $600 million to $700 million and that is what we are looking at,” she said.
Chinamasa said all the three auction floors were more than ready for the 2017 tobacco marketing system, and the introduction of the e-marketing system had brought excitement for this season.
“All of them are ready, raring to go and with the e-marketing, it has brought in some excitement and how it is going to roll out. Don’t worry, it is here to stay. We want to move with the times, if we have challenges TIMB and the floors are there together and it will work. Where we got it wrong, we will be here to assist,” she said. “We have tried to expose the growers with the new system. We see the positive in it.”
Chinamasa said the e-marketing of tobacco would go far in reducing side-marketing, illegal sales and theft.
The electronic auctioning of tobacco will also reduce the processing time for grower payments and eliminates illicit floor activities, for example ticket tampering.
Chinamasa said the prevailing cash shortages would not be a challenge as farmers have already embraced the situation before, but banks would be ready to assist farmers depending on the cash withdrawal limits of the day.
“Some banks have more cash than others, but banks will announce on the opening day their limits. Farmers, in light with the cash challenges, banks will have some limits and the beauty about growers, they accept innovations, so it will not be a problem,” she said.
The 2017 tobacco marketing season opens on Wednesday, while contract sales open the following day.
Three auction floors — Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Auction Floors (BTAF) and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor (PTAF) — have been licensed to auction the golden leaf.
TIMB said growers are free to book and deliver on the first come, first served basis to a floor of their choice.
The tobacco marketing board renewed licences for 22 “A” class buyers and 19 contractors for the marketing season.
PTAF managing director, Philemon Mangena said the auction floor was prepared for the 2017 marketing season and were expecting more tobacco this year.
“We are very prepared, all our systems are working and what remained are the farmers to come on board. We are expecting a good season and for farmers to bring more tobacco than last year,” Mangena said.
BTAF operations manager, Moses Bias said they were “100% ready” for season.
He said mock sales had begun, adding that the floors had spent about $200 000 on renovations of the premises.
According to contract floors, PTAF leaf manager Darlington Chiundura, 80% of contract farmers were smallscale.
The contractor is the third largest tobacco merchant.
PTAF contracted 12 000 smallscale farmers and nine commercial farmers.
Treasury has projected the 2017 tobacco output at 205 million kg up from 202 million kg attained last year.