2019 tobacco sets record Tobacco bales

Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau

The 2019 auction tobacco marketing season curtain will close on a high note next week after the industry broke the record of 252 million kilogrammes that was set last year.

Last year, farmers delivered 252 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco becoming the highest ever volume in the history of the country but by last Monday they had sold 252,6kg.

The previous record of 237 million kilogrammes, was achieved in 2000.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board latest statistics show that by day 104, tobacco growers had delivered 252,6 million kilogrammes worth US$510 million.

In a statement yesterday, TIMB said the 2019 auction clean up sales will be conducted in September.

“All stakeholders are advised that the 2019 auction floors will remain open until Wednesday August 28 2019. Deliveries to the selling points will be accepted until Tuesday 27 August. Clean up sales will be conducted on Tuesday 10 September,” read the statement.

The Government’s Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report for the 2018/2019 shows that 132 040 hectares were put under tobacco during the 2018/2019 season, up from the 104 395 that were planted during the 2017/2018 season.

Tobacco has earned a strategic position in the economy because of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and foreign currency earnings.

Zimbabwe has become the major flue-cured tobacco producer in Africa and occupies fifth position in the world as many communal farmers joined the lucrative farming sector following the land reform programme.

The 2019 marketing season has been characterised by low prices with the average price declining from US$2,92 per kilogramme last year to US$2,02 per kilogramme this year.

TIMB statistics show that farmers have so far earned US$510 million from the sale of 252,6 million kilogrammes this year when last year during the same period they had collectively pocketed US$731 million from the sale of 250,3 million kilogrammes of tobacco.

Farmers also complained of complicated payment methods which the TIMB promised to evaluate at the end the season and make recommendations to relevant authorities for review.

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