This year's tobacco marketing season is likely to open in February due to the early rains and a good rainfall pattern that resulted in this year’s crop maturing earlier than expected.
A source within the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) told this publication that this year’s tobacco marketing season will not open in late March or April as has been the case in the previous seasons because almost 50 percent of the crop was now ready for the market.
“This year’s auction floors are likely to open in February because almost 50 percent of the crop is ready for the market. In the previous seasons, auction floors would open between March and April but this year’s early rains and good rainfall patterns resulted in the early maturing of the crop. This means the auction floors will open soon to allow farmers to sell their early crops,” said the source.
The source said that about 66 000 hacters of tobacco was planted and the harvest is estimated to be around 230 kilograms per hectare.
The source further said that farmers selling their tobacco at the auction floors would be paid 90 percent of their money in US dollars and 10 percent in local currency. He said that this payment modality would likely increase productivity as farmers would be able to efficiently plan for the next season regardless of the prevailing economic trends.
A tobacco farmer, Gilbert Muza, told this publication said that they welcome the early opening of the auction floors as it would help them get money quickly to plan for the next season
“Tobacco is one of the generators of foreign currency in the country and by opening early, it also gives us time to rest and prepare early for the next season. I am happy that the Government has taken this bold step of paying us in US dollars as it is only reasonable for the producers of the golden leaf to be paid in that currency since the crop also generates foreign currency”, said Muza.
Last year, the auction floors opened on 30 March while contract sales started on 31 March. The bulk of last year’s tobacco was sold through contract floors as 118 465 registered farmers were contracted while 4 530 self-financed growers sold their tobacco through the auction floors.