ZIMBABWE’S three tobacco auction floors have entered a deal with Noczim to get preferential treatment in the allocation of fuel, the Zimbabwe Independent h
President of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association Duncan Miller said Noczim would deliver fuel to the floors, which would then sell direct to farmers.
“The three auction floors have put storage facilities in place,” Millar said. “It is our hope that the new arrangement will ease the transport problems and boost deliveries of the crop to the auctions,” said Miller.
The three auction floors are Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) and Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre.
BMZ managing director Bruce Searles confirmed the arrangement to avail fuel to farmers so that they can bring their crop to the floors. He said farmers also needed fuel for land preparation in the coming season.
“Tobacco Marketing Board (TIMB), through Noczim, has agreed to source fuel and deliver it to the three auction floors,” Searles said. “The auction floors will store the fuel so that farmers can buy it as they deliver their crop to the floors. However, we haven’t received anything as yet.”
TSF managing director David Mashingaidze also confirmed the deal and their capacity to store the fuel.
“We have tanks that can receive the fuel,” Mashingaidze said. “As we speak we are waiting for the fuel to be delivered to the floor.”
These developments come amid reports of a record low delivery of the tobacco crop to the auction floors this year. According to latest TIMB figures, a mere 10,93 million kilogrammes of tobacco have gone through the three auction floors over the past six weeks compared to a seasonal average of 22 million kg over the same period last year.
The figures also show that only 124 092 bales have been sold at the three floors this year instead of a seasonal average of 228 201 bales.
Farming experts have attributed this year’s thin delivery of the tobacco crop to unavailability of fuel, shortage of curing coal and a small crop caused by the chaotic land reform programme. An estimated 85 million kg should be delivered to the auction floors, a drop from the 166 million kg delivered last year.
The country has been hit by a fuel crisis owing to the failure by Noczim to source the commodity. Noczim needs US$40 million a month to import fuel.
Miller said tobacco production was likely to decline further next year.
“We are concerned about next year’s crop. The Tobacco Growers Trust does not have enough inputs for the farmers. The interest rates for banks have also been hiked and the cost of production has gone up by 500% this year,” he said.
Miller said farmers were pinning their hopes on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to review the export rate to cover production costs.