By Tendai Munengwa
THE tobacco auctioning system which suffered a severe knock over the past few years is on the rebound, with the bulk of farmers excited at the turn of events which has seen their golden leaf closing in on the price of US$5dollars per kilogramme.
While some farmers are reportedly crying foul over poor returns from the tobacco contractors system, the bulk of growers who used their own funds are enjoying lucrative business at the auction floors.
This comes at a time when quality tobacco has been fetching the highest price of US$4.99 per kilogramme at the auction floors.
“I am happy that after self-financing my tobacco – I chose to sell here at auction system where there is competition and got the highest price of US$4.99,” said an excited farmer.
“I brought 25 bales and 20 were bought at the highest price while others fetched over US$4 per kg.”
The farmers have, however, appealed to the government to avail tobacco credit lines and revitalise the auction system, where farmers can get a fair price.
“If the government can avail credit lines we grow our tobacco with loans and avoid the risk faced by many farmers who are left with nothing after contractors deduct their loan for inputs,” said a farmer.
A tobacco marketing expert Samuel Garaba attributed the increase in number of farmers who now prefer the auction system to competition compared to the contract system where they have to stick to one buyer.
“Here at the auction system there is competition because many buyers bid for the golden leaf while at contract only one buyer hence no competition so that is why the government should intervene to ensure auction system is revitalised,” he said.
As part of efforts to revitalise the tobacco auction system, cabinet has already approved a US$60 million fund which is expected to see farmers increasing production of the golden leaf for the auction system.