BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA/FIDELITY MHLANGA
THE Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has hiked floor-clearing charges, weighing and auction fees, further eating into the earnings of farmers already hard-pressed by depressed prices this season.
The weighing and auction fees were raised from ZWL$25 to ZWL$48 per bale and floor-clearing charges were raised to ZWL$4 per bale.
In a circular, TIMB said the new charges will be effective from yesterday and would be monitored and reviewed periodically.
Apart from weighing and auction fees, other deductions incurred by farmers include tobacco levy (0,75%), TIMB stop order levies (0,8%) and the Ministry of Agriculture levy (USD$0,875c per kg ).
In March this year, TIMB hiked weighing and auction floor charges, from US$4,50 to US$7,70 per bale, much to the chagrin of farmers who felt that their earnings were being eroded.
The rise in auction fees in March was attributed to an upsurge in the cost structure at the auction floors.
Commenting on the issue, Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) chief executive officer, Rodney Ambrose said the increase in costs would negatively continue to impact on the viability of farming.
“It’s not just the charges on auction that have increased but on contract floors too.
“These charges amount to the equivalent of US$8 per bale. Farmer morale is very low, further indicated by seed sales for next season which are 60% below last season,” he said.
Statistics from TIMB showed that tobacco sales have gone down 44% at $292,8 million after 53 days of trade, compared to $523,5 million achieved last season.
Deliveries have gone down 12% at 157,7 million kg from 180,3 million kg delivered in the same period last year and the price being offered for the crop is also lower than last year at
an average of $1,85 per kg, down from $2,87 per kg.