Tobacco season to begin next week

BY OWN CORRESPONDENT

ZIMBABWE’S 2019 tobacco marketing season will start on March 20, the industry’s regulator has said.

Tobacco is the country’s second biggest export earning commodity after gold.

Last year, the country’s tobacco output reached an all-time high of 252 million kilogrammes, earning at least a billion dollars in revenue.

However, prospects of a bigger output in comparison to last year are slim following this year’s poor rains.

“All stakeholders are advised that the 2019 auction tobacco marketing season opens on Wednesday 20 March 2019. Contract tobacco sales will open on Thursday March 21, 2019,” Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board said in a notice.

Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe’s Guy Mutasa said farmers had called for an orderly season in a meeting held recently with the regulator and bankers.

“We raised concerns with TIMB and bankers that we need an orderly selling season whereby farmers are not treated as beggars because they are bringing in a commodity which gives us forex. Our position is that the issue of money should not be a talk show. We also told bankers that if there is money, people should be told that than to have a situation whereby farmers wait for long hours. TIMB promised that this year is going to be a different selling season. To TIMB, we told them that they should continue to play their role as the regulator and redress grievances that come from farmers in a good manner,” Mutasa said.

Farmers expect to be paid half of the tobacco sales in foreign currency, while the other half would be in real-time gross settlement dollars.

The number of farmers who registered to grow the crop at 171 269 farmers as of February 28, is way higher than the 118 451 who grew the crop last season.

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