Farmers seek tobacco auction extension

Source: Farmers seek tobacco auction extension | The Herald

Farmers seek tobacco auction extension
Last week, the TIMB announced that the auction floors would be closing today, but the sale of tobacco grown under contract would continue “until further notice”.

Herald Reporter

Farmers across the country have called upon the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to extend the marketing season. 

Last week, the TIMB announced that the auction floors would be closing today, but the sale of tobacco grown under contract would continue “until further notice”.

The announcement has seen farmers stampeding to take their crop to the auction floors.

Reports suggest that many farmers have taken their crop to auction floors, but some farmers say they could not immediately organise transport to ferry their crop since the notice period was relatively short, and are requesting that the TIMB extend the marketing season to mid-August. 

At Premier Tobacco Auction Floors, it was a hive of activity as farmers delivered high volumes of the crop.

Farmers were queuing for long to get their chance to sell their tobacco. 

Some farmers told The Herald that closing the auction floors today will affect them since they planted late due to erratic rains.

“Many farmers are at the peak of processing and delivering tobacco. We appeal to Government to engage the TIMB and allow us a grace period of at three weeks so that we deliver,” said Mr Tawedzerwa Garwe from Mazowe.

“TIMB should listen to the farmers, we request an extension of the closing date by at least three weeks so that all farmers with free tobacco are taken care of.”

Another farmer, Mr Moses Tirivangani from Bindura said as self-financing farmers, they found the auctions floors to be paying better than contract and they fear that if they fail to get an extension, they may not be able to go back to the field next season. 

A tobacco marketing expert, Mr Sam Garaba, urged the TIMB to consider the farmers’ plea. 

“Most farmers planted late and they are saying they still have a huge chunk of tobacco to deliver. 

“So it will be prudent for the regulatory authority to listen to the farmers as denying them the market will be tantamount to promoting side marketing,” said Mr Garaba.

TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo said the decision to close the auction floors was arrived at after an agreement with stakeholders.

“We have done consultations with stakeholders and the decision to close was made out of consensus.

“But I will consult with my bosses on the outcry by farmers,” she said.

This year, a target of 250 million kg had been set but as of day 73, on July 14, TIMB had recorded 182,2 million kg of tobacco.

The average price paid as of day 73 was US$3,04 per kg compared to US$2,77 kg paid during the same period last year.

Ms Moyo said this year, there was high demand of the Zimbabwe flavour tobacco on the global market, a development that pushed prices upwards.

 “This season, tobacco growers were satisfied as the average prices were firmer. However, delayed payments by some companies were disheartening to some growers,” she said.

Ms Moyo said incessant and excessive rains in January caused water logging, nutrient leaching, and disrupted weeding and other agronomic operations, adversely affecting the quality of tobacco produced by some growers this season.