Marondera firm eyes US$75mln tobacco sales
Marondera (New Ziana) – With the good rains the country had received this year, a Marondera-based tobacco auction floor said on Thursday it was expecting to market a bumper crop of 25 million kilogrammes worth around US$75 million.
In an interview, Voedsel operations director, Tennyson Hwandi said the company had put preparations in full swing for the start of tobacco auctions, which usually open around March.
The company has this season contracted 24 000 farmers, mainly in Mashonaland East Province, to grow tobacco, and the majority have a good crop owing to the sufficient rains.
“With average auction sales of between US$2.70 to US$3 per kg, we are very much confident of reaching our projected targets this year, given the good rains received in the country so far,” said Hwandi.
He projected total tobacco deliveries to Voedsel of around 25 million kilogrammes this marketing season, worth about US$75 million.
With input prices having stabilised, Hwandi said he expected both farmers and the company to earn a healthy return from the crop this year.
In previous years, hyper-inflation eroded earnings, particularly the local currency component.
“The prices of major inputs such as fertilizer were stable this year which made it easier for our farmers to access the commodity without hassles,” he added.
With reaping of the crop now in full swing, Hwandi said the company was disbursing funds to contracted farmers to assist with labour costs.
Small scale farmers were being given between US$150 and US$600, while commercial farmers obtained more.
Tobacco is the country’s biggest agricultural export, and second only to gold in overall export earnings.
Voedsel is involved in tobacco production, processing and export.