Friday, September 16, 2011

(HERALD) Tobacco clean up sales start Tuesday

Tobacco clean up sales start Tuesday
Friday, 16 September 2011 02:00
Obert Chifamba Agriculture Reporter

TOBACCO mop up sales will start on September 20, 2011 and run until all the tobacco delivered to the floors this year has been sold. Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri yesterday said the mop up sales would be conducted at all floors.

He urged farmers who still had undelivered tobacco to take advantage of that window period. "There are chances that there are farmers who may still be holding on to their tobacco for unknown reasons or after facing challenges in beating the dates for the closing of the marketing season.

"It is such farmers who should now deliver their produce without fail," said Dr Matibiri.

In a related development, burley tobacco sales will also be conducted at Boka Tobacco Floors every Tuesday.

A total of 131 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco with a value of US$358m were sold at the country's four tobacco floors this year.

TIMB and other stakeholders in the tobacco industry had estimated that more than 170 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf would go under the hammer this year.

Dr Matibiri also took the opportunity to warn farmers against leaving tobacco stalks in their fields saying the deadline for stalk destruction was May 15.

There should be a dead period during which there is no tobacco or any crop related to tobacco growing in the field after one tobacco crop is harvested to break pest and disease cycles.

Meanwhile, planting of the 2011/12 irrigated tobacco got underway last week on Thursday amid indications that there may be a bigger hectarage this time around compared to last season.

"Most big farmers have indicated that they intend to increase their hectarage this season. There is still a lot of excitement about the crop and so far the number of farmers who have registered to grow the crop has doubled what we had at the same period last season," he said.

He added that from the look of things, only a quarter of the farmers expected to grow tobacco this year has registered.

TIMB would soon make the figures available, said Dr Matibiri.

"The deadline for registration is October 31 so farmers must make sure they register within the intervening days to avoid the last minute rush that has over the years seen some growing the crop without

growers' numbers," added Dr Matibiri.

TIMB has also decentralised the registration process to all tobacco growing districts to help farmers cut on travel costs.

For inputs, farmers should deal with their contractors or banks so that they get into the season adequately prepared, said Dr Matibiri.

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