Tobacco deliveries down 98pc

ZIMBABWE’S tobacco deliveries slumped to its lowest levels ever after farmers brought in 3 886 kilogrammes of the golden leaf on the first day compared to 165 105kg in 2018, showing a 97,65 percent decrease.

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that tobacco farmers earned a paltry $7 116 on day one, compared to $366 003 last year, after selling 2 449kg at Tobacco Sales Floor and 1 437 kg at Premier Tobacco Floor while no sales were recorded at Boka Tobacco Sales Floor.

This was after farmers had got information that they were no longer getting their dues in foreign currency as previously announced by the central bank.
However, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya yesterday said tobacco farmers will continue to get 50 percent of their payments in foreign currency, with the remainder being paid RTGS dollars.    

“In addition to accessing cash at a rate of RTGS$0,50 per kg of tobacco sold, and up to a maximum of RTGS$300, the small-scale tobacco growers — those growers with two hectares and below —  are eligible for a United States Dollars cash withdrawal of US$0,10 per kg of tobacco sold per bale, up to a maximum of US$50,00, after their Nostro FCA bank accounts have been accredited with the foreign currency entitlement,” he said.
Tobacco deliveries improved slightly on the second day to 59 314kg resulting in farmers earning $87 000, but was still 64 percent lower than 

165 000kg delivered during the same period last year. 
TIMB chairperson Monica Chinamasa said it was important for authorities in the tobacco industry to avail requisite marketing information to farmers to ensure a smooth marketing season.

“This marketing season is coinciding with new developments in the economy and calls for greater need for information dissemination to the growers for them to understand issues before they come to market their crop,” she said.

“The RBZ and TIMB have jointly put in place payment measures to ensure tobacco growers get full value for their crop and being paid within the shortest possible time,” she added.

Zimbabwe last year saw 252 million kg of the golden leaf being delivered to the auction floors compared to the previous record of 231 million kilogrammes in 2000, and there were indications that deliveries could increase this year.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who was guest of honour at the auction floors on Wednesday said tobacco, a crop that was once the preserve of white commercial farmers, is arguably one of the success stories of agriculture and our land reform.

“This is a significant achievement for the country’s economy. It is also pleasing that there has been an increase in the number of women farmers that have gone into tobacco production in the past few years,” he said.