By: Nqobile Bhebhe,Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s 2018 tobacco selling opened Wednesday with officials saying production is set to increase by nearly six percent to 200 million kilogrammes this year from 189 million kg last year.Tobacco is the southern African country’s second biggest foreign currency earner after gold, raking in $1.2 billion by December last year.
Acting President Constantino Chiwenga said the country currently exports 98 percent of all tobacco it produces with China, South Africa, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia as major buyers.
“Government appreciates the coming on board of the tobacco contracting companies where they financed 82 percent of the crop in the 2017/2018 agricultural season” said Chiwenga while officially opening the season at the Tobacco Sales Floor in Harare.
“I therefore wish to commend the contracting companies for providing this much needed support as it has enabled farmers to increase production and improve the quality of the golden leaf.
“I am elated to report that, government has extended the tobacco contract model to the same category as maize production programme, commonly known as ‘command agriculture’ which recently has been extended to cover wheat, soybeans, livestock, fisheries and wildlife production,” he said.
Three auction floors namely Boka Tobacco Auction Floor, Tobacco Sales Floor and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor have been licensed by Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).There are 29 buyers and 23 contractors that have been licensed for this season.The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced that farmers will get a maximum of $300 cash per sale.Based on TIMB statistics, 122 520 farmers had registered to sell tobacco this season.
This is an increase of 45 percent from the 84 221 farmers, who had registered during the same period last year.
A total of 32 025 growers have registered for the first time compared to 16 464, who registered last year.
The increase in registration has largely been influenced by the need for farmers to obtain individual grower’s numbers so that they benefit from the introduction of foreign currency incentives.