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No respite for burley tobacco farmers

SEASONAL burley tobacco prices were averaging US$1,48 per kg at the auction floors last week amid fears that low prices obtaining would drive away farmers from growing the crop.

REPORT BY OUR STAFF

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) showed that total seasonal sales were 55 499 kg on Friday, up 83% on last year’s figures.

The value of the burley tobacco auctioned so far was US$82 201 from US$22 165 realised during the same period last year.

On Friday, the highest price was US$2,50 per kg. The lowest price was US$0,50 per kg.

Analysts fear that low prices are a deterrent to the growing of the crop.

But TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said prices would firm up during the course of the season.

“The majority of the crop is of low quality. We expect that when farmers start reaping higher up, the prices will also rise,” he said.

This year, TIMB projects an output of 300 000 kg from last year’s 60 000 kg.

At its peak in 1998, burley tobacco production reached 16 million kg.

Burley tobacco growers have been finding it hard to sell their crop, unlike Virginia farmers whose crop is auctioned at three auction floor — Boka, Tobacco Sales Floor and Premier Tobacco Floor.

This year Chidziva Tobacco Processors is the sole buyer. Last year Curverib was the sole buyer.

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