BURLEY tobacco selling resumed yesterday after sales were temporarily suspended early this month due to farmers’ concerns over low prices.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) vice president Edward Raradza said the selling season had resumed a
fter farmers, merchants and the central bank agreed that the crop be sold in local currency.
“An agreement has been reached between farmers, merchants and the Reserve Bank which would allow the crop to be sold in local currency at rates which are attractive,” Raradza said.
The 2006 burley tobacco selling season was suspended during the second week of this month after farmers expressed displeasure at the selling prices of between US$0,30 and US$0,40.
Last year’s selling prices averaged US$1,90 per kilogramme.
“The resumption is a positive move as most farmers were left stranded after sales were suspended early this month,” Raradza said. Raradza said the delays in the opening of this years burley tobacco selling season had negatively impacted on most farmers whose earnings from the crop have been eroded by inflation and rising input costs.
“Unattractive prices are a hindrance to the production of the crop and the contribution of the sector to economic growth,” said Raradza.
Raradza said it was important for government to intervene in the selling of the crop to enable farmers to recover their expenses and remain viable.
He said the RBZ had to offer viable prices for tobacco in future as the crop was capable of generating enough foreign currency for the country.
Zimbabwe has so far earned more that US$38,6 million ($3,9 trillion) from 20 million kg of tobacco that have gone under the hammer since the auction floors opened on April 25.
This season’s tobacco production declined from 73 million kg recorded last year to 50 million kg due to late disbursement of funds, rising production costs and excess rains.