The tobacco marketing season began yesterday with an opening price of $4, 45 per kilogramme. Officially opening the 2012 marketing season, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made appealed for price consistency during the rest of the marketing season.
He said previous experience shows that high prices only prevail during the early part of the season.
Made said as a result farmers were disregarding the sales booking system by flocking to the sales floor in the early days to try and cash in on the prevailing good opening prices.
During the last marketing season a serious decline in the average price occurred at about eight weeks into the season, leading to withdrawals of tobacco from sales, said Made.
It is my expectation that this year will see a consistent pricing and purchasing pattern that ensures the viability of growers.
At least 35 000 tobacco growers have so far registered to sell in the 2012 tobacco season.
He said all players in the industry including farmers organisations, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the Tobacco Research Board, tobacco merchants and auction floors should increase their efforts in educating farmers on how to prepare their tobacco for marketing.
He said local tobacco continued to be in great demand because of its superior flavour characteristic, adding: We must continue to do all that possible to increase production to attain our full national production potential.
TIMBs Monica Chinamasa said the tobacco marketing season had opened earlier than previous seasons.
She said previous seasons have been characterised by relentless congestion, but with four auction floors licensed this year the situation was bound to be better.
To achieve orderly marketing growers should play their part as well. It is inexcusable for growers to deliver tobacco without prior booking, or as in some cases, without even renewing their growers registration with TIMB, said Chinamasa.
Payment of growers between conclusion of sales and payment should not exceed a maximum of two hours.
It is in this regard that all auction floors should have information or computer systems that are compliant with the TIMB requirements to ensure speedy payment of growers.