TOBACCO auction floors licensed for the 2013 tobacco selling season that begins next Wednesday have intensified preparations for the marketing season with at least 170 million kg of tobacco set to go under the hammer.
Report by Tarisai Mandizha
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica Chinamasa told NewsDay that three floors – Tobacco Sales Floor Limited (TSF), Boka Tobacco Auction Floor (BTAF) and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors (PTAF) – had been licensed to conduct the auctions.
Last year there were four auction floors including Millennium tobacco auction floors (MTF), which is reportedly facing operational challenges.
Chinamasa said preparations for the new marketing season had reached an advanced stage.
“All the necessary preparation for daily marketing requirements is being done and exclusively the three auction floors are expected to have all conditions necessary to provide for a daily marketing service,” she said.
Chinamasa said so far 72 000 growers had registered for the forthcoming auction season.
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors director of operations Moses Bias said Boka was more than ready for the beginning of the 2013 tobacco selling season.
“We are now ready to start,” he said.
BATF started receiving tobacco on Monday. Bias said that the number of growers for this season had increased and measures were put in place for daily operations to run smoothly.
“We have increased our capacity in terms of the ablution facilities and restaurants,” Bias said.
“We have upgraded our information and communication technology facilities to increase the speed of processing on payment.”
TSF chief executive officer Washington Matsaira last week said the group was looking forward to the opening of the tobacco selling season.
“We have put so much work ahead of this year’s tobacco selling season and despite the increase in tobacco growers, we don’t believe there would be any challenges,” he said. Matsaira said a number of contractors signed up for 2013 and the group was actively improving service provision to customers.
He added that tobacco growers scheme was targeting 2,5 million kgs for 2013 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.
Despite the increase in output, the country missed its 150 million kg target for 2012.