Story by Stanley James, Business Editor
THE 2023 tobacco selling season is set to officially open this Wednesday, in a development expected to boost the country’s foreign currency earnings.
An estimated 8,5 percent growth in tobacco output of 230 million kilogrammes is expected this year, compared to 212 million kilogrammes last year.
The trend is being cited as a reflection of increased interest by the small and large scale growers in venturing into the capital intensive, but viable tobacco growing industry.
A visit to the tobacco auction floors by ZBC News on Monday showed that tobacco bales are already being delivered ahead of the start of the season this Wednesday.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is anticipating increased business activities during this year’s marketing season.
“I can confirm that the season start this Wednesday. As the regulatory authority we have put in place all the relevant modalities to ensure transparency and accountability while assuring real value for money in the entire tobacco value chain,’’ said Mr Pat Davenish, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairman
Auction floor representatives have also revealed their readiness for the 2023 selling season.
“We have done our best in ensuring that all is being set up ahead of the selling season taking into account all the required protocol as well as compliance systems,” said Mr Owen Murumbi, Premier Tobacco Auction Director.
“Every season has its own ups and downs, but like any other activity we are upbeat about viable prices as well as ensuring that instances of side marketing and illicit deals are stamped out,” noted Mr Tyson Ngongoni, General Manager Ethical Leaf Tobacco .
During the 2023 tobacco selling season, growers will be paid 85 percent of their earnings in foreign currency and the remainder in local currency.
Tobacco is critical to economic growth as central bank data shows that the commodity accounted for a huge proportion of more than US$11 billion foreign receipts last year.