TOBACCO merchants and growers are putting up final touches in preparation for the commencement of the marketing season next week, amid the farmers’ high expectations of good prices.
Zimbabwe has over 140 000 registered growers, with Makoni and Odzi being the hubs of tobacco farming in Manicaland.
Last year, the country produced 184 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf and generated US$748 million.
The product was mainly exported to China, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Belgium and Indonesia.
The country received above normal rains and this year’s crop is expected to be of high quality, hence the expectation of better prices.
However, some crops were affected by water-logging.
This will be the second year for auction floors to operate under the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 guidelines which will see a limited number of people coming to the floors to combat the spread of Covid-19.
In Manicaland, six auction floors have decentralised their operations in Rusape to cater for farmers in the province.
For the convenience of farmers, some banks will be offering their services at the floors.
Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president, Mr Victor Mariranyika, said most farmers have finished the curing and packaging of their crop.
“We hope things will flow smoothly with the cooperation of all parties involved. Tobacco auction floors have decentralised to growing towns such as Rusape, Marondera and Karoi in order to decongest the Harare floors.
“The decentralisation of floors also works in favour of farmers as transport costs will be reduced significantly. Accommodation challenges will also be addressed.
“However, as farmer organisations we will be on high alert monitoring the situation as some errant merchants might want to manipulate the situation and swindle farmers of their crops. We hope these unfortunate scenarios will be eradicated as we will be paying attention to such issues,” said Mr Mariranyika.
Tobacco farmers will this year retain 60 percent of their earnings in foreign currency while the remainder will be liquidated at the prevailing exchange rate.