HARARE – The 2023 tobacco marketing season is set to start March 8 amid high expectations of a bumper yield.
In a statement, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), the sector’s regulator, said auction sales will be the first to open on March 8, followed by contract sales the next day.
“All stakeholders are advised that the 2023 auction tobacco marketing season opens on Wednesday 8 March 2023.
“Sales at other licensed auction floors will start at 9.00 am on Wednesday 8 March 2023. Contract tobacco sales will open on Thursday 9 March 2023,” the board said.
During the 2023 tobacco marketing season, tobacco growers will be paid 85 percent of their earnings in foreign currency, and the balance in local currency.
TIMB public affairs officer Chelesani Tsarwe said preparations for the 2023 marketing season are almost complete.
“We expect smooth and orderly marketing this year,” Tsarwe said.
“Crop assessment is still ongoing and we expect to finish at the end of this week.”
A crop assessment is a process conducted to determine the size of the yield.
Tsarwe added, “As of 12 January 2023, TIMB recorded 104,635 hectares under tobacco for the 2022/23 cropping season whilst there were 111,912 hectares of tobacco during the same period in the previous season.”
In an interview recently, George Seremwe, president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association said this year’s quality of the tobacco crop was good and would be able to fetch decent prices when the marketing season opens.
“This year, we have got a very good crop. The rains were good; even the dry land crop which is rain-fed could be looking like the irrigated crop because the rains were quite good,” he said.
This year, TIMB will also maintain its decentralised marketing approach which started in 2021, to make it easier and cheaper for farmers to market their crop.
Previously, tobacco marketing was centralised in Harare, which farmers found inconvenient and costly as they spent days at auction floors.
Now tobacco marketing is decentralised to Marondera in Mashonaland East, Rusape in Manicaland, Karoi in Mashonaland West as well as Bindura and Mvurwi in Mashonaland Central.
At the end of the 2022 selling season, farmers had realised US$650,3 million from tobacco sales, up 10,3% compared to the previous year.
Most of the country’s tobacco is exported to Asia, mainly China and Indonesia, which are the main buyers of Zimbabwean produce.