Harare (New Ziana)-Zimbabwe’s tobacco auction floors have this year handled only five percent of the country’s total annual production of 183.4 million kilogrammes worth US458.7 million, statistics released by the regulator show.
In a trading update released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the auction floors sold 9.2 million kg of the total annual sales, which translates to a mere five percent while contractors handled 95 percent (174.2 million kg) of the golden leaf.
TIMB chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri confirmed the decline in auction sales saying it was a result of reduced self- funded tobacco farming.
He however said the auction floor sales could pick if farmers manage to raise funding to grow tobacco on their own in the coming season.
“From our observation, many farmers are in favour of being contracted. If they had their way, all tobacco would be sold through auction where farmers will be in charge of their own resources for production,” he said.
Matibiri said another way to boost auction floor sales was by allowing funding from local financial institutions to play a greater part in supporting tobacco production.
“One of the things we are happy to hear about is the conversion of the Agribank mission to becoming a land bank,” he said.
Tobacco is the country’s second largest foreign currency earner after gold. This year, tobacco was grown under difficult weather conditions characterised by delayed rains and prolonged drought.
In the past few years, tobacco production has been on the increase, with farmers selling a record 259 million kg last year, up from 253 million kg in 2018.