ZIMBABWE’S Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) is set to delay the start of the 2015 tobacco marketing season which traditionally opens mid-February, due to the late rains and floods that have adversely affected the tobacco crop.
A significant number of farmers have been forced to replant their crop due to erratic rains and floods late last year, TIMB chairperson Monica Chinamasa told the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of the Tobacco Sales Floor’s grower of the year ceremony held in the capital yesterday.
Chinamasa could not be drawn to reveal the proposed dates, saying the board was still consulting stakeholders on the matter. Tobacco accounts for about a third of Zimbabwe’s foreign exchange earnings.
“We are still talking to stakeholders to see when it is possible to open the selling season. The Ministry of Agriculture will announce the date,” she said.
“We are reassessing (the situation) because of the weather pattern. What I am happy about is that growers have not given up. They planted a lot of the crop even after the late rains…”
She said she did have the statistics on the damaged crop as she was still to get the data from Agritex.
Chinamasa said so far about 88 500 farmers have registered to grow the crop, up from 85 100 during the same period last year.
Total flue-cured tobacco output in 2014 amounted to 216 million kgs, compared to 165,85 million kgs realised in 2013.
In its 2015 national budget, government projected a hectarage of 90 000 for tobacco, whose output is projected at 222 million kgs.
However Chinamasa said the hectarage and tonnage for tobacco under cultivation this year would be released by end of month to enable merchants to mobilise funds.
Only three auction floors have applied to buy tobacco this season, she said.