Tobacco Growers Angered Over Lower Prices

Tobacco growers are angered over the prices offered at the auction and are demanding government to urgently step in on the given issue.

This year, the number of registered tobacco farmers increased to 60 000 due to profitable revenues from a good crop.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Farmers Union President Nicholas Kapungu declared that the current prices offered at the auction were serving to discourage new farmers from growing tobacco next season.

Tobacco grower and tobacco leaf

“We have a lot of farmer who grow tobacco for years, but these prices are nothing more than a sabotage. The last week prices were fluctuating between US$0, 80 and US$1, 20 depending of the crop quality,” stated Kapungu.

“As a union we are even not informed when the authorities choose buyers. Government is not thinking about needs of farmers, as being a union we urge authorities to respond to our plight”.

Official statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board demonstrated that 87 million kg of tobacco worth US$231 million had gone under the hammer at the mean price of US$2, 65 by day 62 of the selling season.

Such increased prices offered at various auctions stood at US$4, 50, US$4, 85 and US$4, 46 respectively.

Farmers complained about the lower prices at the auction floors and called government to undertake urging actions.

Mrs. Makuvamombe from Macheke declared that she had brought four bales to the auctions in April and after the tobacco was auctioned, one bale in a strange way disappeared although indications were that it had been sold at a profitable price.

“I believe government officials should intervene because such marketing system is not fair,” she stated.

She also criticized other farmers for corrupting buyers not to pay equitable prices for certain bales that deserve more increased prices.

One more farmer declared that he had withdrawn his bales from auction after the prices became quite unprofitable. The costs for crop stipulated until the final sale was amazing and did not correspond to what he had expected in terms of price offered.

“I brought eight bales and was charged US$25 per bale. Also I had to look for commissions and weight charges before all my bales were auctioned at less than US$2 per kg,” he stated.

Boka Floors representative of the Rudo Boka declared that it was not in the interest of the auction to overcharge farmers but called authorities to train farmers showing them how premium quality crop should be produced.

Approximately 90% of the auctioned tobacco from Zimbabwe is meant for the export market.

“A lot of countries as Brazil and Malawi have produced tobacco in large quantities, so that will probably affect the world market prices,” Hillary Mombeshora spokesman for Millennium Tobacco Floors stated.

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