By Margaret Kamba
All is not lost for the tobacco farmers who are to begin their marketing season on the 22nd of April because their song must go on although with some changes.
The green leaf has always earned the country the much needed foreign currency and with the corona virus COVID19 pandemic killing millions globally, the industry feared huge losses.
Zimbabwe like any other has been on high alert and imposed a National Lockdown in order to protect its citizens. The initial 21 days of National Lockdown has since been extended by two weeks to 3 May pending review.
Speaking during a question and answer session after his National Lockdown review address at the State House yesterday, the President said the tobacco marketing season will go ahead with a few changes.
“With regards to the tobacco sector, the tobacco board has been sitting and consulting our task force, and they have come to an agreement, an arrangement where the tobacco auction floors are going to be decentralized countrywide to minimize crowding and in the process they are going to observe the measures such as social distancing and also the question of accommodation will be regulated as to who comes on which day because then the areas of concentration will be limited in terms of decentralization and spread.”
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) 140 257 farmers had registered to grow the crop, down from 165 130 the previous year, a 15 percent drop, while hectarage under tobacco crop went down to 35 998 hectares from 42 000 hectares. The drop was attributed to the low average prices at $2 per kg, down from $2, 92 registered the previous season.