THE licensed Tobacco Auction floors ahead of the 2013 marketing season have a combined capacity to handle 33 000 bales daily discounting fears of congestion despite the closure of one auction floor, it has been learnt.
Report by Tarisai Mandizha
Speaking at the final inspection of tobacco auction floors ahead of the start of the marketing season on Wednesday, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica Chinamasa last Friday said the floors had capacity to handle deliveries of the cash crop despite the closure of Millenium Tobacco, which plunged into insolvency last year.
“This is enough capacity to sell all tobacco in less than 50 selling days provided the growers book in advance to avoid congestion,” said Chinamasa.
The 2013 tobacco marketing season opens on Wednesday while contract tobacco farmers would make deliveries of the golden leaf the following day.
Chinamasa said Tobacco Sales Floor had a capacity to sell 15 000 bales daily, Boka Tobacco Auction Floor 12 000 bales while Premier Tobacco Floor now had the capacity to sell 6 000. A total of 15 A class buyers licenses were renewed for the current season and 15 companies were authorised contractors.
“Growers are free to book and deliver on first–come –first –serve basis to a floor of their choice.
“The practice of deliver today and sell tomorrow will apply at all auction floors, ,” she said.
Chinamasa said that all the three auction floors were compliant with the TIMB regulations among them setting up of ablution facilities, bank facilities, clinics, waiting areas, information technology systems, backup generators and borehole water supply.
“We are very impressed with the state of preparedness at all the three auction floors. They have done beyond our expectations,” said Chinamasa.
She added banks had assured TIMB that adequate cash for growers would be available.
She, however, warned against side marketing, that growers were free to choose auction floor of their choice and also that contractors should not buy tobacco that there had not supported. Boka director of operations Moses Bias said Boka had so far spent $60 000 on conveyor belts to improve efficiency and reduce congestion.
Premier Tobacco Auction Floors official Philemon Mangena said the company had spent $300 000 in improving and preparing for the new tobacco marketing season. TIMB projects 170 million kg of the golden leaf to be brought to the auction floors this season.
The tobacco industry has been on a recovery path since 2009 when the country adopted the multi-currency system.
In the 2012/2013 marketing season, 144 million kg of tobacco was sold, earning the country $525 million.