Tobacco deliveries to hit 230 million kg

12 Mar, 2023 - 00:03 0 Views
Tobacco deliveries to hit 230 million kg

The Sunday Mail

Business Reporter

FARMERS are expected to deliver more than 230 million kilogrammes of tobacco in the current marketing season, which opened on Wednesday, up from 221 million kg last year.

The growth in output comes on the back of good rains and increased hectarage, as well as growing interest from small- and large-scale growers.

The area put under tobacco during the cropping season grew to 117 000ha from 110 000 hectares in 2022.

The number of growers similarly rose to 148 527 from 123 000 in the same period.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Mr Patrick Davenish said they wanted to ensure value for money in the entire tobacco value chain.

“As the regulatory authority, we have put in place all the relevant modalities to ensure transparency and accountability while assuring real value for money in the entire tobacco value chain,’’ said Mr Davenish.

Tobacco farmers say new pest control methods had boosted yields per hectare and the quality of their crop.

They also expect better prices.

Crop science researchers and agronomists say they will continue to explore ways of enhancing yields in tobacco farming.

Crop science expert Mr Qualiwe Khumalo believes “the scientific discovery of the damages caused by nematodes is a plus to the growth of the agriculture industry in the country”.

“Even the quality of our tobacco crop will improve greatly, matching global standards,” he said.

Premier Tobacco Auction Floors director Mr Owen Murumbi said everything was in place for a successful marketing season.

“We have done our best in ensuring that all is in order for the selling season, taking into account all the required protocols, as well as compliance systems,” he said.

Ethical Leaf Tobacco general manager Mr Tyson Ngongoni said they were hopeful side marketing would be eliminated.

“Every season has its own ups and downs, but, like any other activity, we are upbeat about viable prices, as well as ensuring that instances of side-marketing and illicit deals are stamped out,” he said.

The TIMB has been warning farmers against side marketing, which threatens the viability of the sector.

During the 2023 tobacco selling season, growers will be paid 85 percent of their earnings in foreign currency and the remainder in local currency.

Tobacco is critical to economic growth, as it contributed more than US$1 billion to foreign receipts last year.

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