The 2021 tobacco marketing season has been described as a success, with farmers earning more than half a billion United States dollars despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have also been calls for the Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) to offer affordable funding so farmers can self-finance in future.
Auction floors will officially close on Wednesday after 69 days of business, but contract floors will continue until further notice.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) advised all growers who sell on auction floors to complete their grading and baling operations.
The flue cured auction tobacco clean up sale for the 2021 marketing season will be held on Wednesday August 5.
Depending on the volumes of deliveries, the clean-up sale may be continued for more than one day and until all delivered tobacco has been sold.
TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu said Covid-19 was the major challenge as some of the selling points such as Karoi were hotspots.
He said the industry lost some farmers who succumbed to the pandemic.
“The average prices for the 2021 selling season were 13 percent firmer compared to last year,” said Mr Gudu. “The industry managed to decentralise and 41 percent of the deliveries came from decentralised selling points.
“Auction volumes increased compared to last year for instance auction volumes at TSF increased by almost 100 percent. Last year auction only accounted for about 4-5 million kilogrammes.”
Mr Gudu said he was expecting that the Agriculture Finance Corporation will be able to lend farmers funding at concessionary rates so farmers can self-finance.
“There is need for auction floors to continue operating as they are important in determining the minimum prices,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said 2021 was a good tobacco marketing year as farmers received viable prices.
“The prices were good,” he said. “TIMB played its regulatory role and exposed unscrupulous contractors. TIMB also introduced strict requirements for contractors and this brought order into the sector.
“The main challenge remains Covid-19 which affected normal operations at the floors. Farmers could not witness the selling of their crop.”
Dr Makombe said a number of farmers lost their bales to robbers, especially those who travelled during the night.
Farmers are partly to blame for this, as they travel during the day and only hire reputable transporters.
“We hope going forward most farmers will wean off from the contract system and be able to self-finance,” said Dr Makombe. “Hopefully farmers will be able to access affordable finding form the land bank.”
Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe president, Mr George Seremwe, said the season was a success as the sector managed well the Covid-19 pandemic by putting systems and modalities that were better than last year.
“The decentralisation of auction floors to districts and provinces helped reduce the spread of Covid-19 and also helped farmers not to travel long distances to the market,” he said.
“The payment system was well prepared and generally the average price was were firm when compared to last season. The situation was however different at contract floors.”
Meanwhile, farmers have sold 185 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth US$511,6 million as compared to 159 million kilogrammes value at US$394 million same period last year.
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Publish date : 2021-07-12 09:46:36