By Lerato Ndlovu
THE much anticipated tobacco selling season has began with farmers showing high hopes for better profits as the yield is being marketed.
Zimbabwe is expecting more than 200 million kilograms of the cash crop this year.
Giving an address at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) yesterday, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) Chairman, Pat Devenish stated that they registered three auction floors for this season’s selling as the numbers of registered Tobacco farmers have increased.
He ensured that all COVID 19 safety protocols are in place so as to ensure smooth and safe operations.
“For this marketing season, the number of registered growers is 145,625 compared to 147,931 in the prior year with more than 1,916 growers having registered for the first time. The Board has licensed three auction floors for the 2021 marketing season, and these are, Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), Boka Tobacco Floors (BTF), and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor (PTAF).
“As usual, the Board inspected the level of preparedness at the licensed auction floors and the three floors were found to be ready for business including compliance to COVID-19 guidelines.
“Just like in the previous year, sales will run under strict COVID 19 guidelines developed by the tobacco industry with guidance from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement and other Government Departments.”
He also urged all tobacco farmers to abide by the marketing regulations that include submitting production estimates and registration on time, to use TIMB registered transporters and also to refrain from dealing with unscrupulous individuals at the floors.
Tobacco growers shall be required to strictly adhere to the stipulated booking requirements for selling of tobacco at the auction and contract sales.
Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka at the same event urged TIMB to eliminate the perceived farmer deprivation and enhance transparent and fair tobacco sales at contract and auction sales including analyzing, recommending, improving and facilitating equitable transparent and profitable sharing of expenses and profits throughout the tobacco value chain.
“The Board should develop a robust tobacco information management system, from growing units to markets, analyzing trends and proffering advice on needed policy interventions for a sustained growth of the industry,” Masuka said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said that payment for the farmers will be rationed at 60 percent foreign currency and 40 percent local currency and deposited into their accounts.
This year the season was delayed by the lockdown, the decrease in cases and cautiousness of the citizens has resulted in some rules being relaxed and WHO guidelines being followed.