HARARE – At least 28 million kilograms of tobacco worth about $31 million have been sold so far at auction and contract floors in the country since the marketing season opened last month, statistics from the industry regulator show.
In an update, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said auction sales took a 37 percent dip from 6,8 million kilograms sold during the same time last season to 4,3 million, total mass sold at the contract floors also declined 57 percent compared to the same period last year.
The 2019 tobacco marketing season started on March 20 and farmers have been complaining about the low prices they were getting, while contractors were concerned with tax rates resulting in low deliveries at the tobacco floors.
However, Government has hinted that it is expecting for deliveries to increase this week as prices being offered for the crop are beginning to firm with 31 contract buyers and 36 auction buyers having been licensed to buy the golden leaf.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube assured farmers and merchants that Government would look into issues affecting them to ensure a smooth marketing season.
The average price for auction and contract floors stood at $1,75 per kg, which is 36,7 percent lower than the $2, 80 of the 2018 marketing season.
The highest price stood at $5, 25 per kg while the lowest was at $0,20.
Zimbabwe’s tobacco output is expected to decline to 200 million kilogrammes this year owing to unfavourable weather conditions under which the crop was grown, the industry regulator has said.
Last year, the country produced an all-time high of 252 million kilogrammes of tobacco, earning at least a billion dollars in revenue.
The tobacco being sold this year was grown under grim weather conditions characterised by late rains and prolonged dry spells, particularly when the crop was almost ready for harvesting, prompting authorities to review projections downwards.