Harare, March 30, 2022 (New Ziana) – The 2022 tobacco selling season opened on Wednesday amid expectation of firm prices.
The first bale was, however, sold at US$4.20 per kg, down from US$4.30 per kg last year, but industry officials still expressed optimism of better crop prices this year overall.
Officially opening the selling season, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka said this year’s crop was grown under difficult weather conditions.
“The season this year has been very challenging, being characterised by a late and false start of the rains, followed by incessant and excessive rains in January causing water logging, nutrient leaching, and disrupting weeding and other agronomic operations,” he said.
Masuka said although a higher irrigated crop was grown, planting of the late dry-land crop had to be extended into January.
“This adversely affected yield and expected total production, he said.
He added: “Climate-proofing of tobacco production is clearly required” and I hope more investments in irrigation development will be made at the small holder sector level.”
“The tobacco industry regulator, TIMB, through various initiatives should continue to guide the industry towards viable and sustainable tobacco production.”
Government reviewed the foreign currency retention for farmers to 75 percent, up from 60 percent last year.
Masuka said reports of higher prices at contract sales compared to auction sales for similar grade crop, and of collusion by merchants and manouevers by middlemen to re-handle tobacco bought cheaply from farmers should be a thing of the past.
“I am recommending the TIMB (Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board) Inspectorate Unit to continue to work with other security agencies to eliminate these vices,” he said.
“Discipline must return to this important industry. Contractors should provide the prescribed minimum support package for both smallholder and commercial farmers and farmers must repay this support through delivery of the crop to contractors while avoiding side-marketing,” he said.
This season, TIMB registered 123 595 farmers to grow and sell tobacco.
Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Floors and Premier Tobacco Floors were also registered to operate auction floors this season.
TIMB said decentralisation of auction floors to various tobacco growing areas would also be implemented during this 2022 selling season.