All auction floors and buyers for marketing this year’s tobacco crop have now been licensed by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) in anticipation of a bigger and better harvest expected because of good rains.
The bulk of the crop is grown on contract, with the contract companies ready to decentralise collection points.
The traditional three floors in Harare have been licensed.
Dates for the opening of the marketing season are yet to be announced as consultations are still ongoing.
In an interview last week, TIMB chief executive, Dr Andrew Matibiri said discussions on Covid-19 containment measures are ongoing ahead of the opening of the marketing season.
“Licensing of auction floors and buyers has been done.
“Contracting companies have largely complied with new regulations on funding their contracted farmers.”
“As was the case in 2020 some of the contracting companies will operate out-of-Harare sales points,” said Dr Matibiri.
“Three auction floors, namely, Boka Tobacco Floors, Premier Tobacco Auction Floors and Tobacco Sales Floor have been licensed for 2021.
“They will all operate from Harare only; there will be no decentralisation of auction sales.”
He said crop assessment by relevant Government departments is ongoing.
“The industry is currently preparing for the 2021 marketing season. Reaping and curing of the irrigated crop is now largely over while reaping and curing of the main rain-fed crop is now underway,” said Dr Matibiri.
Given the growing conditions experienced this year, a lighter, soft-natured and more mature crop is expected.
The potential national output is currently being assessed by Agritex and TIMB and the results will be made available through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement in due course.
“Preparations and consultations on procedures to be followed during the marketing season are actively underway.
“One of the main issue is the crafting of anti-Covid-19 procedures to be instituted.
“Inputs from industry stakeholders, based on the procedures that were in place in 2020, have been received and are being collated into a final draft to be presented to the parent ministry and health authorities.”
The tobacco regulatory body said it was critical to fix tight operational modalities during this marketing season to ensure business is done in the safest possible environment for all stakeholders in the industry.
Dr Matibiri said TIMB was still in discussion with monetary authorities on payment modalities.
“The other issue is that of farmer payment modalities. TIMB and stakeholders have submitted suggestions and these are being considered by monetary authorities,” he said.
Tobacco production has been increasing owing to a significant amount of rains that have been registered this year.