Tobacco sakes to fall (20-07-07)

TOBACCO sales will fall short of the projected total output of 80 million kg by nearly 10 million kg if average daily sales of 485 000kg continue with about 37 days of official trade left.
Figures obtained from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) yesterday showed that a total 50,4 mil

lion kg valued at US$117 million (about $29,3 billion at the interbank rate) had gone under the hammer as at July 18.
Farmers this week said if the average daily sales were maintained until the close of the auction floors which are traditionally during the first week of September, a total of about 68,3 million kg would have been sold.
Auction floors are usually extended by about two weeks to accommodate late deliveries. If sales during the two weeks are included using the same average sales, about 73,1 million kg would have been sold for the 2007 selling season.
The figures also showed that Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) auction floors have so far handled the largest volume of tobacco, with about 7,3 million kg of tobacco valued at US$ 17 million going under the harmer as at July 18.
Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) auction floors are second with sales of 6,8 million kg valued at US$16,1 million while Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac) accounts for the lowest volume of tobacco sales at 6,3 million kg valued at US$15,3 million.
Zitac usually caters for large scale tobacco farmers, while TSF mainly accommodates smallholder farmers. BMZ attracts medium- to large-scale tobacco growers. Contract farmers accounted for 29 million kg valued at US$68,7 million.
This year’s tobacco auction started on a low note with farmers unhappy with prices merchants were offering.
Although amount being offered was satisfactory, farmers were also unhappy with the late payments which have resulted to some staying at the auction floors for nearly three weeks.
PRODUCTION at the country’s sole glass manufacturer, Zimglass, is set to resume next week following the successful completion of repairs to the company’s G2 furnace at a cost of $49 billion.
Zimglass’s managing director, Jacob Dube said the furnace, which broke down early last month, was refired over a week ago adding commercial production was expected to commence as soon as the furnace reached the optimum temperatures.
“The furnace was refired on July 9 and the heatup process is painstakingly slow to ensure a controlled rise in temperature from zero degrees Celsius to 1 400 degrees Celsius at which commercial glass production should start.
“Commercial production is expected to start next week,” he said.
The company has since engaged the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company in talks for guarantees on uninterrupted power supplies to the furnace during the refiring process.
Dube said once production resumed the company would give preference to green glass before shifting attention to the clear varieties.
“The current campaign will be green glass for a month at a maximum glass draw of 105 tonnes per day at a standard operating efficiency of 85 percent.
“After the green run there will be a colour change to flint (clear) glass which will run until early next year.
“These products are for both the local and foreign markets that have been facing a bottle shortage during the downtime,” he said.
Dube said although repairs had been done, the company was keen to raise 120 000 euros for moulds and electrodes to fulfil outstanding orders.
“The impact of this furnace repair has been huge as customers had to slow down their own production activities in the absence of bottles.
“There is a general shortage of bottles in the region. Therefore, our customers could not find alternative sources of bottles.”
The G2 furnace developed a leak at four weeks ago due to intermittent power cuts at the Gweru factory.
The furnace, according to officials, was very sensitive and such intermittent power cuts.
The breakdown had a ripple effect on downstream industries such as Mutare Bottling Company, whose operations were compromised by a shortage of bottles.
The G2 furnace is one of the two furnaces operated by Zimglass and it is the only one running at present, following the breakdown of the G1 furnace.
The furnace produces about 110 tonnes of glass per day or about 120 000 units of 300 millilitre bottles per day depending on the bottle and colour mix.

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