Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica Chinamasa says her organisation has formulated a plan to assist farmers to produce quality tobacco.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Addressing stakeholders at the final tour before the opening of the official Tobacco marketing this Wednesday, Chinamasa said most farmers were embracing the use of rocket bans to cure their tobacco to ensure quality production of the golden leaf.
“What we have realised is that the farmers were having problems with curing their tobacco. So we assisted them to build rocket bans. We got the design from Malawi and Tobacco Research Board is also helping in crafting the bans. We are training builders who go and build these bans,” Chinamasa said.
She said each farmer would pay to TIMB between $1 000 and $1 200 during the tobacco selling season towards the assistance rendered in building the ban.
Chinamasa added that all the country’s three leading auction floors — Boka Tobacco Auction Floor, Premier Tobacco Auction Floors and Tobacco Sales Floor — were ready to kickstart their business ahead of the marketing season this Wednesday. To curb problems caused by middlemen, Chinamasa said all auction floors would re-handle the golden leaf on site to improve efficiency and accountability.
“We have plugged the holes of middlemen by removing B class buyers, all auction floors have created a department where tobacco does not leave the auction floor but is re-handled at the same floor and resold immediately,” she said.
She added that she was looking forward to a better pricing regime this season buoyed by Chinese buyers. TSF managing director James Mutambanesango said his company had opened additional tobacco receiving bays to facilitate quick offloading.
“Our preparations and engagement with all stakeholders have been thorough such that we expect the season to start smoothly,” Mutambanesango said.
At TSF, the same eight banks which were servicing last year would be offering financial services this marketing season.
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors director of operations Moses Bias said so far 600 bales had been delivered and they expected 1 200 bales of tobacco to be delivered on the first day of sale.
Treasury expects to sell 222 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf to go through the auction floors this year, but TIMB has revised the projections downwards to 190 million kg due to erratic rainfall.