A TOTAL of 70,1 million kg of tobacco valued at US$164,3 million ($118,5 billion) were sold at the close of the 2007 selling season figures obtained
yesterday from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board revealed.
During the same period last year a total of 54 173 445 kg were sold, the figure rose to 55,5 million kg following 1,4 million kg which were sold during the two clean up sales which were done after the close of the official selling season.
Of the 70,1 kg million, BMZ handled 9,1 million kg valued at US$22 million, TSL and ZITAC processed transactions of 11 million kg and 8,6 million valued at US$26,7 million and US$21,1 million respectively. Contract farming accounted for 41,3 million kg valued at US$94,5 million.
The 70 million kg is a far cry from the impoverished country’s glory days, when tobacco production reached a record high of 236,13 million kg.
TIMB acting chief executive Andrew Matibiri said the industry was targeting to increase production to 120 million kg next year, following the purchase of seed enough to cover 95 000 hectares.
“We intend to have 60 000 hectares of land under tobacco to produce 120 million kilogrammes of tobacco next season. Although we have the usual problems of lack of inputs such as fertiliser and power outages we are confident we will be able to reach next year’s target,” Matibiriri said.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive Rodney Ambrose said the just ended selling season was one of the best in terms of marketing due to support from the government and the Reserve Bank.
Government disbursed a support price of $5,1 trillion this year.
The opening of this year’s selling season was however marred by a dispute over pricing between farmers and buyers as growers withheld their crop in protest over prices.
Tobacco growers wanted an adjustment on the exchange rate to US$1 to $180 000 and that the retention scheme be either raised or maintained.
From April 25, tobacco growers who sold leaf tobacco at the auction floors to July 31 were entitled to a 35% delivery and early delivery bonus. The support framework was based on the actual value of tobacco sold on the auction floors.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said the cut-off of July 31 took into account unanticipated logistical challenges experienced by growers during the preparation of this year’s crop for marketing. Gono said sales made after the cut-off date and before August 31 would attract a reduced delivery bonus of 15%, after the date a delivery bonus did not apply.
He said under the new framework tobacco growers would be paid for all tobacco sold at the auction floors at the prevailing interbank rate. As a result the 15% Tobacco Growers Retention was discontinued.