By Nita Karume :
Zimbabwe’s 2018 flue-cured tobacco deliveries currently stand at US $696m with a record 238 million kilograms. The previous record was back in 2000 at 237m kg. According to latest Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics, the amount in kilos is a 34% increase from 177m kg sold during the corresponding period last year.
Moreover, stakeholders in the industry are speculating that the volume may get to 240m kg by the end of this year. Of the total amount, US $599m is from the 203m kg sold by contracted growers. The remaining US $97m was from self-financed farmers who sold 35m kg.
TIMB corporate communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo said that peak periods would see deliveries average at approximately 7m kg in a day. However, this has since decreased to 1m kg per day.
On the other hand, many farmers have described the 2018 marketing season as successful as they did not have challenges with prices. According to these, the prices were fair, although others still maintain that there should not be a price cap of US $4.99 per kg at the auction floors. This is because the highest price of tobacco at the auction floors has always stuck to US $4.99 per kg. Conversely, contract floors usually register higher prices. For instance, this year saw the highest price at the contract floors at US $6.25 per kg.
The increase in tobacco production has been attributed to high prices and an organized market, availability of funding through contractors and Government. The payment of some of the farmers’ incentives in foreign currency also spurred deliveries. This is all despite the slow start of the season owing to complains of Potato Virus Y. Moreover, other farmers complained about the effect of delays in the onset of the rainy season.