Monday, May 31, 2010
Editor — Allow me to respond to comments made by Farai Chigodo of Headlands whom you quoted as saying: "During the white farmer era, we never heard of excessive supply of tobacco and people were being paid handsomely."(The Herald, May 28, 2010).
Mr Chigodo’s comments are as false as they are naive. Daily statistics compiled and made public by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, who represent the Government, point to the contrary.
Tobacco prices of pre-land reform programme have almost been doubled by prices paid for the top leaf today.
His allegations of "excessive supply of tobacco" are equally unfounded.
It is common knowledge that a huge chunk of Zimbabwean tobacco is exported to European, American and Asian markets where our tobacco competes with other suppliers like Brazil, USA and Malawi, among many others.
As such, it is the international market trends that control the prices locally.
So the recent depression in prices has nothing to do with "excessive" supplies on the local market.
If anything, it has something to do with the early opening of the marketing season which resulted in speculative buying by local merchants while they waited for confirmed orders which traditionally come around this time of the year.
The same Mr Chigodo goes on to allege that there are some buyers bent on sabotaging the new farmer.
This gentleman’s comments are very misleading.
Had it not been for the same buyers he stands to accuse today, the tobacco industry would be dead and buried.
When our country was going through land reform, financial institutions stepped aside leaving the tobacco merchants to come up with their own strategies to save their industry.
They quickly formed contract schemes that propped up the tobacco farmer both new and old. That, coupled with good prices on the market, has resulted in increased production on the farms.
It is my hope that Mr Chigodo was not speaking on behalf of all the growers.