Empowering Farmers through Knowledge

Zimbabwe’s 2023 Tobacco Selling Season Starts Strong with Improved Prices and Increased Foreign Currency Retention for Farmers.

The Zimbabwean tobacco season commenced on March 8th with the auctioning of the first bale at the Tobacco Sales Floor, marking the start of the selling season. The event was attended by prominent government officials, including the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr. Anxious Masuka, and Vice President Dr. Constantino Chiwenga, who witnessed the sale of the first bale. The bale was sold for US$4.35 per kg, which was slightly higher than the US$4.20 per kg raised by the first bale during the previous year’s selling season.

The government has called on the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to improve transparency and fairness in tobacco sales and facilitate the equitable sharing of proceeds throughout the tobacco value chain. Vice President Dr. Constantino Chiwenga also announced that farmers would receive 85% foreign currency retention, up from 75% in the previous season, which is expected to motivate them to continue with their tobacco farming.

The government’s Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan aims to increase the localization of tobacco funding to 70% of the cost of production by 2025, and raise productivity from 262 million kg per year to 300 million kg by 2025. The plan is expected to accelerate the transformation of the tobacco industry, which is a significant contributor to the country’s economy.

TIMB Board Chairman Patrick Devenish urged tobacco companies to ensure prompt payment to growers, failing which they would face penalties, suspension, or cancellation of their operating licenses. He also urged growers who had outstanding debts to contracting companies and TIMB for the Tobacco Inputs Credit Scheme (TICS) from the previous season to pay back, so that all players in the value chain could operate profitably.

Buyers examine bales at the start of the tobacco selling season, in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 30, 2022. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Despite the outstanding debts from the previous season, farmers who were at the auction floor on the opening day were excited about the good prices, which they hope will encourage them to sustain their tobacco farming. Mr. Best Herege from Guruve expressed his satisfaction with the prices so far and stressed the critical component of timely payment to ensure sustainability.

Sales are being conducted at the Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors (PTAF), where growers can sell their tobacco to various companies. It is hoped that the selling season will continue to be successful, and the tobacco industry will continue to contribute significantly to the country’s economy.

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