Crop down “significantly”

Zimbabwe is likely to suffer a “significant” fall in flue-cured tobacco output this year in the wake of cyclone Idai, according to a story in The Chronicle quoting the CEO of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), Dr Andrew Matibiri.

The cyclone was said to have struck most parts of the provinces of Manicaland and Mashonaland East.

Matibiri said an assessment was underway to establish the damage that had been caused.

But it was known that a lot of farmers in Manicaland and parts of Mashonaland East had lost tobacco in the field, and that about 550 flue-cured barns had collapsed.

“As a result of the adverse effects of the calamity, there is going to be a significant decline of tobacco output this year,” Matibiri said. “We are yet to account how much we are likely to lose as a result of the disaster.”

The Chronicle story said that last year Zimbabwe had produced a record flue-cured tobacco crop of 253 million kg.

This year’s tobacco selling season had been opened by Vice President Kembo Mohadi on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a story in The Sunday Mail had it that tobacco sales were expected to pick up at tobacco auction floors from today after the Government scrapped, with immediate effect, a two percent Intermediated Money Transfer Tax on tobacco sales and confirmed that farmers would get half of their earnings in US dollars.

Sales had been slow since the opening of the floors with some farmers reportedly holding on to their tobacco because of dissatisfaction with the prices being offered.