2021 tobacco selling season starts on a high note

Agriculture Reporter

The 2021 tobacco selling season has started today on a positive note, with the first bale being sold at US$4.30 per kilogramme.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka officially opened the marketing season at the Tobacco Sales Floor, highlighting that he expected prices to firm as the season progresses.

The marketing season which traditionally starts between February and March was delayed due to Covid-19.

The country expects to benefit from high demand with projected volumes at around 200 million kilogrammes. The first round Crop and Livestock Assessment report indicates that farmers planted 125177 hectares of tobacco this season compared to 117049 hectares last season.

According to statistics with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), a total of 145 625 farmers had registered for tobacco production and are selling this season.

This season, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said farmers would get 60 percent of their money in foreign currency deposited into their FCA and 40 percent in local currency as compared to last year when the ratio was 50-50.

TIMB says all Covid-19 safety protocols are in place to ensure smooth operations and the safety of farmers.

Farmers who spoke to this publication at the floors were optimistic that prices will improve as they have produced a high quality tobacco crop due to favourable rains and weather conditions experienced this farming season.

‘We really appreciate the opening price of US$4.30 and look forward to improved prices considering that we have a very good crop this season compared to last season. We are also pleased with the 60 percent foreign currency payment, it is very encouraging and I hope more farmers will join the tobacco farming industry this coming season,’ said Mr Tendekai Murambwa from Macheke.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZFU) president, Dr Shadreck Makombe speaking to one of the local papers urged banks to have facilities in place at the auction floors and the contractors to ensure farmers get their payments processed quickly to avoid a situation in which growers stay at the floors for too long.

Contract sales will open tomorrow.