Source: Premier trains growers grading, classification | The Herald April 26, 2016
Premier Tobacco Auction Floors has embarked on an programme to equip farmers with better skills to grade, present and classify tobacco so that they get good prices at sales floors, an official said. Opening of the 2016 marketing season was delayed by three weeks to allow harvesting of the crop since the rains had come late so most farmers are still grading their tobacco in preparation to take it for sale.Premier Tobacco field officer Nyika Taruvinga told New Ziana on the sidelines of a farmers training session at Ziroto farm in the Trelawney area, near Banket in Mashonaland West Province that as an auction floor they recognised a knowledge gap in tobacco grading.
“We noticed that at times farmers are not getting value for their tobacco because they mix tobacco of different types and grades in one bale, so we took it upon ourselves to help them as they prepare to sell,” he said.
Mr Taruvinga said extension officers from his company were also providing grading tips to farmers in other tobacco growing areas.
“We are using field days to impart different farming tips to growers,” he said.
Premier Tobacco extension officer for Zvimba district Enock Hakulandaba said small scale farmers were encouraged to do split sales to avoid mixing tobacco leaf types.
“I work with about 5 000 farmers and I have noticed that when farmers grow tobacco on a small area, they would want to mix all leaf types in one bale to reduce transport costs but at the end they do not get good prices.
“We are encouraging them to do split sales instead of mixing different types of tobacco in one bale. That way they will get good prices,” he said.
Transporters charge about $10 to ferry one bale of tobacco to Harare where auction floors are situated.
The 2015 /16 cropping season was characterized by drought which resulted in farmers planting tobacco late and the crop was heavily affected by dry spells.
Zimbabwe expects is expecting about 158 million kg of tobacco to be sold this season, 20 percent lower than last year’s 198 million kg. – New Ziana.