Tobacco floors close

HARARE - The tobacco-selling season has closed prematurely with only a paltry 55,5 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco worth US$110,7 million having gone through the auction floors, according to final figures released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board this week.
The Board said


55,466,689 kg of tobacco went under the hammer at an average price of US$1,99 per kg, representing a massive downturn from the 73,376,990kg sold last year.
TIMB deputy general manager Godfrey Bhuka told The Zimbabwean that production had been negatively affected by the government’s agrarian reform programme.
Banks were reluctant to fund farmers because there “were too many risks”, which mainly affected large-scale farmers “where the quality production comes from”.
“We have a problem with funding, banks are nervous as there’s a lack of collateral value because the land could be invaded, be listed under a Section 8 (government acquisition) notice anytime,” Bhuka said.
Officially the season ends on December 15, but the auction floors were forced to close on September 27 because no deliveries had been forthcoming.
He said the poor tobacco crop would have serious ramifications for Zimbabwe’s economy.
“At 55,5 million kg the auction sale value of the tobacco is about US $110,7 million, down from close to US $120 million (in the previous year). That’s pretty dire, it’s chopping hugely our ability to pay for imports like fuel. The total national fuel bill is about US $360 million, the value of auction tobacco was at least covering our fuel bill (previously),” Bhuka said. -Own correspondent


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