THE 2016 tobacco selling season is set to begin at the end of this month, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said. The marketing season, which traditionally begins in February, has been delayed due to late rains resulting in most farmers being behind schedule. “This year’s tobacco marketing season begins with the auction floors opening on March 30 while contract sales will open the following day,” said Matibiri.
“We’re very much prepared for the marketing season.” Last year, the marketing season was also delayed due to late rains that saw farmers planting late in the season.
Of late, the growers have expressed concern over the crop’s prices at the auction floors. However, tobacco farmers are optimistic that the 2016 marketing season will be a success and they will reap favourable returns.
In 2015, the season’s average tobacco price was pegged at $2,93 a kilogramme down from $3,17 a kilogramme recorded the previous year. Asked about this year’s tobacco prices at the auction floors, Matibiri said: “As TIMB, we’ve no authority or mandate over tobacco pricing. The prices are set by the market.”
The previous marketing seasons were characterised by congestion, with some farmers spending days and weeks camped outside auction floors waiting to sell their crop.
Auction floors blamed farmers for not following the correct marketing procedure of booking their crop first and possessing a grower’s number.
This resulted in the erosion of the farmer’s premium as they spent days at the auction floors.
In the previous marketing season, farmers boycotted selling their crop demanding a review of the prices, they argued merchants were deliberately under-pricing their crop.
The Southern African region was negatively impacted by the El Nino phenomenon that hit the region and this has affected production of the crop.
Meanwhile, since January over 30,1 million kg of the golden leaf have so far been exported to different parts of the world raking in $203,6 million.
The tobacco sector has since the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009 played a critical role contributing significantly through liquidity support.