Friday, April 08, 2011

(HERALD) Millenium Tobacco holds inaugural sale

Millenium Tobacco holds inaugural sale
Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:11
Agriculture Reporters

VICE President Joice Mujuru joins the Mbare Chimurenga Choir on the dance floor at a field day held at Mapunga Farm in Bindura yesterday. The farm is owned by Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios.

MILLENIUM Tobacco Auction Floors held its first tobacco sale in Harare on Wednesday with prices ranging from US$0,80 to US$4,50 per kg. MTF chairman, Mr Hillary Mombeshora, said the quality of the leaf was good especially as most of the first bales sold were from seasoned commercial farmers.

"There is a blend of commercial, communal and small-scale farmers coming here but the quality is very good," he said.

By 9am, 1 903 bales had already been sold and farmers interviewed said they were happy with the prices and the service.

"The prices are good though there is need for the lowest grade to fetch at least a dollar or slightly above to allow the farmer to at least salvage something," a farmer from Hurungwe said.

Mr Mombeshora, however, indicated that prices were bound to firm as more deliveries came in.

"At the moment, we are holding a single sale of 3 600 bales per day while we put final touches to all the facilities on the premises. We will increase the tonnage gradually," he said.

"At the moment the receiving system is being run manually, which is slowing the process a bit but will soon be automated," said MTF marketing director Ms Kudzai Hamadziripi.

She said once everything was in place, they had the capacity to handle more than one auction per day. There are 13 buyers at the floor. Ms Hamadziripi said they were strict on bookings and always made sure that every farmer brought in booked tobacco.

"TIMB charges a penalty of US$20 for every bale that passes the auction floors without being booked and that charge comes to us so we make it a point that we encourage all farmers to pre-book their tobacco.

"There is a TIMB satellite office here where they can make bookings before auctioning," she said.

She also added that MTF had built 20 toilets at the floor while banks such as CBZ, ZABG, Kingdom and Trust are available on the premises to assist farmers get their cash immediately after selling their crop.

"We also have running showers, a canteen and tent for those farmers sleeping over before selling their tobacco," she said.

TIMB chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri said the opening of MTF would go a long way towards easing congestion at the country's three other auction floors - Boka Tobacco Floors, Tobacco Sales Floor and Tian Ze.

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