Tobacco sales hit US$45m in 11 days

Source: The Herald – Breaking news

Tobacco sales hit US$45m in 11 days

Precious Manomano Herald Reporter

Farmers have earned US$45 million from the sale of 15 million kg of tobacco since the opening of the marketing season at better prices compared to the US$55 million from 20 million kg sold during the same period last year, statistics released by the regulator show.

Deliveries are a little slower this year as a result of a significantly earlier start to the marketing season, so farmers had less cured and graded tobacco on their farms when sales and deliveries started.

Farmers continue to deliver tobacco to the auction and contract floors which opened three weeks ago. The bulk of the crop being produced in Zimbabwe is under contract farming.

A few small scale farmers are still reaping the rain fed tobacco, but most farmers are now in the curing and grading stages.

According to statistics from Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, prices at the auction floors continued to be firm at an average price of US $2,98/kg compared to US$2,82/kg in the same period last year.

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika said the marketing season progressed fairly well, adding that this year’s target can be met because of good rains received.

The industry has targeted a volume of 220 million kg for 2023 and there is high probability that the target can be met because of the favourable climatic season.

“We are still expecting more deliveries from farmers who are contracted,” said Mr Mariranyika. “It is likely that this year we are going to exceed our target. So far we experienced normal rainfall for the production of the crop. The season had its fair share of challenges, but we managed to pull through.”

The tobacco sector has seen some side marketing, but in theory this should be impossible since farmers can only deliver to their own contractor and contractors can only receive tobacco from farmers they support. 

But last year in Statutory Instrument 77 of 2022 specific to tobacco side marketing, the TIMB Inspectorate Department was able to bring to book growers and companies that were side marketing.

Last season repeat offenders were made to pay administrative penalties to TIMB and this went a long way in deterring this problem.

The future of the tobacco industry lay in improving the viability of growers, compliance to regulations and sustainable tobacco production, including good agricultural labour practice.

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust vice president Mr Edward Dune said the crop leaf was good, adding that farmers had better quality this season compared to the last season.

He said farmers should practice crop rotation to improve production and ensure viability.

“The prices so far offered are not bad,” said Mr Dune. 

“Deliveries are increasing. Most farmers tend to deliver their best quality crop as the season progresses, but so far the situation at the floors is good. No complaints so far. We advise farmers to take up horticulture and diversify their operations.”

Mr Dune warned farmers to buy inputs from reputable dealers to avoid buying fake drugs and seeds that were being peddled on the market.

Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning billions in local currency equivalent annually.