The Tobacco marketing season kicked off this morning with the first bale sold at US$4.20 which is marginally lower than the US$4.30 realized at last year’s opening session, raising stakes for growers who are anticipating higher prices than previous year.
According to the Tobacco Marketing Board (TIMB), deliveries of the golden leaf are expected to be between 10% and 15% lower than last year’s owing to erratic rainfall experienced in the country.
“The crop before us was grown in a late season with very wet weather conditions later on which prompted nutrient leaching with incidences of some bacterial diseases. The crop though is general fair to good quality,” said TIMB vice chairperson Nomusa Dube.
A total of 110 155 hectares of tobacco was planted by 122 841 growers across the country with around 600 growers registered for the first time.
TIMB has licensed three auction floors which are TSF, Boka Tobacco Floors and Premiers Tobacco Leaf for this year’s marketing after the three passed COVID-19 safety protocols.
It also licensed 35 A class buyers and 33 contracting companies with decentralized contract sales set to be conducted at designated centers in Karoi, Mvurwi, Bindura, Marondera and Rusape.
“We thank small scale farmers for contributing to the volume sand quality of tobacco. About 133 million kg out of the 211 million kg sold in 2021 marketing season were produced by small scale growers,” said Dube.
Zimbabwe is targeting to up its tobacco output by the year 2025 to 300 million kg per annum with production increased to 2 tonnes per hectare through vertical growth yield increase and loss reduction, according to its Tobacco Transformation Plan approved by the government last year.
“We want to create a US$ 5 billion tobacco economy by 2025,” said Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement minister, Dr Anxious Masuka.
“It is farmer viability that should anchor the growth of this industry on a more sustainable basis so farmers must get the respect that they deserve as the epicenter for the future of this industry,” said the Dr Masuka.
He also emphasized on the need to protect the farmer from side markers who have for a long time exploited farmers.
“We must make it expensive to side market the crop,” he said.