Farmers planted 125 176 hectares of tobacco during the 2020/21 season, an increase from the 117 976 hectares last season. The bulk of the crop was this season sold through the contract floors. This promoted Government to create a Tobacco Production Localisation Revolving Fund with an initial injection of US$60 million from Treasury to support growers during the forthcoming season. The seed money is set to fund production 60 million kilogrammes of tobacco during the 2021/22 season.
Speaking to TechnoMag’s Ross Moyo in a one on one live interview,Minister Of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, And Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka From Ngungunyana Building No.1 Liberation Legacy Way,said
‘Tobacco famers just like any exporter have now been treated equally by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and i think tobacco famers ought to be pleased that last year they were paid 50% of whatever they generated in forex and the balance in Zim dollars and this year this has gone up to 60%.Most of the farmers have been very pleased with this development.”
Auction floors deal with less than 6,5 percent of the crop while contract floors last year were given allowances of 93,5 percent. Most farmers are growing tobacco under contract farming where they are assured of funding, and usually get some back-up and in previous years obtained higher prices from contractors than those selling on the auction floors.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with TechnoMag’s Editor, Min Dr Masuka said ” I think the tobacco sector is grown and it will probably surpass our expectations. As of today, we are actually at 200 million kilograms of tobacco up from the 184 million that we got from last year.”
Tobacco deliveries for the 2021 marketing season have surpassed the 200 million kilogramme mark as sales continue at the contract floors. According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board’s latest statistics, farmers have delivered a cumulative 202, 2 million kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$567 million. This is an increase from the 178, 9 million kilogrammes worth US$447 that had been sold by farmers during the same period last year.
The tobacco sector has set a target of 210 million kilogrammes with the TIMB confident that the deliveries can surpass the figure. The 2021 selling season officially closed last week although business is still continuing at the contract floors. The flue-cured auction tobacco clean up sale for the 2021 marketing season was held on August 5.
Depending on the volumes delivered, the clean-up sale may be continued for more than one day and until all delivered tobacco has been sold. TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu said indications were that tobacco deliveries will slightly surpass the 200 million kilogramme target. “We will slightly go above 200 million kilogrammes. From the information we have gathered commercial farmers are still delivering, some big contractors also still have significant volumes still to be accounted for,” he said.
Some farmers said the auction floors had closed early as they still had tobacco at their farms. Sonic Well Sounder Sonic Well Sounder from Solinst provides well water level measurements without contact. Solinst Canada Ltd. According to the Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report for the 2020/21 season Tobacco production is expected to increase by eight percent from 184 042 tonnes produced last year to 200 245 tonnes in the current season.
Masuka added ”However there is also increasing costs in Us$dollars terms as you are aware that government has put in place a tobacco transformation plan which seeks to localise the financing of tobacco so that we can then reduce the forex component in the financing of tobacco which will allow farmers to be able to use the local financing institutions and our own dollar to be able to finance their operations.”
Masuka emphasized exclusively to TechnoMag”and only in circumstances where we can not get those resources locally will we resort to be getting foreign currency.So i think increasingly this problem will be addressed through the localisation of financing of the tobacco sector.We will be presenting a very robust tobacco transformation plan in the coming weeks.”