The sale of tobacco is set to kickstart at the Bindura Tobacco auction floor with 5 million kilograms expected from 3,082 farmers contracted by the firm in Mashonaland Central.
General Manager of Bindura Tobacco, Mr. Blessing Mudzamba assured the farmers of consistency in price and an efficient payment system.
The company as at the previous season bought 0.6 million kilogrammes of tobacco in Bindura after setting up operations in Harare and intends to double the tobacco hectarage to 6,000 which is expected to yield about 9 million kilogrammes.
“We are ready for the tobacco selling season and all the preparations have been made. Our staff members are on the ground. We started receiving tobacco bales on Tuesday and we are expecting to start the buying season today with more than 700 bales.
“We have contracted 3 082 tobacco growers who have a total of 3 200 hectares. Not all the farmers are from Mashonaland Central. Some are in Karoi and Murehwa, but the bulk of the farmers are in this province from Guruve, Centenary, Mt Darwin, Matepatepa and Mutungagore.
“We are expecting not less than 5 million kilograms from our contracted farmers. Last season we didn’t buy much tobacco because we opened in the middle of the selling season in July and also we were operating in a new place,” he said.
Mudzamba revealed that his company received 140 bales ahead of the opening day which in his words is quite encouraging. He however stated the company has come to a compromise with Nedbank to provide efficient payment to farmers.
“The bank is not in Bindura and they will be operating from OK Zimbabwe supermarket. The bank has assured us that they will process the payment of farmers on the same day their sale is concluded. The farmers will access their US$ promptly.
“Last season, we were paying at the auction floor but now our scheme is bigger and the risk of disbursing cash at the floor is high. There is no need for farmers to travel to Harare to sell their tobacco when we have an auction floor at their doorstep.
“We will enforce the tobacco industry policy of ‘deliver tobacco today and sell tomorrow’ to maintain order.
“We will buy from self-funded growers only after they are cleared by TIMB. We will be following the health protocols on COVID-19. Farmers will be allowed to enter the floor in smaller numbers, a maximum of 10 people, to observe their sale,” the GM added.
Meanwhile, the company has a well-ventilated offsite tent which has been designed to serve as the sitting area for farmers where they would be screened for temperature and sanitized at points of entry and exit.