THE 2013 tobacco marketing season kick-starts today with 170 million kgs expected to be delivered at the country’s three auction floors as the sector maintains a recovery path.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) remains hopeful to deliver a flawless season despite the collapse of Millennium Tobacco Auction Floors (MTF), which failed to register for this year’s tobacco marketing season.
MTF is reportedly owned by Zanu PF Muzarabani South MP Edward Raradza.
Deliveries to the remaining three auction floors–Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), Boka Tobacco Auction Floor (BTAF) and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor (PTAF) began last week,, raising prospects of an orderly marketing season.
TIMB officials last Friday inspected the auction floors and expressed satisfaction with the state of preparedness for the new marketing season.
“We are very impressed with the state of preparedness at all the three auction floors. They have done beyond our expectations,” TIMB chairperson Monica Chinamasa told the Press during the final inspection.
Indications are that TSF has capacity to handle 15 000 bales daily while BTAF can handle 12 000 and PTAF 6 000 bales.
“This is enough capacity to sell all auction tobacco in less than 50 selling days provided the growers book in advance to avoid congestion,” Chinamasa said.
The Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere is expected to officially open the season at Boka Tobacco Auction Floors today.
A total of 15 A class buyers’ licenses were renewed while 15 firms were registered as contractors.
Chinamasa added that banks have assured TIMB that adequate cash for growers would be available.
The beginning of the selling season is expected to generate cash and ease the liquidity crunch stalking the local economy.
Last season the golden leaf, one of the country’s top foreign currency earners, generated in excess of $500 million.
According to the January monthly economic report of the African Development Bank, seasonal export permits issued cumulatively valued at $3,1 million showed that most of the exports were destined for the EU and China.