Burley tobacco sales are set to commence this Thursday at the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors amid calls by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) for farmers to stop growing the crop this season until there is a guaranteed market for the crop.
Following challenges in finding buyers for burley tobacco this season, which saw farmers holding on to their crop for three months, the TIMB has imposed a temporary ban on the growing of the crop this season to allow it to carry out a survey to determine the requirement for next season.
In an interview with ZBC News, TIMB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Matibiri said a market survey will be carried out to establish the quantity required before farmers can resume growing the crop.
â€œWe need to first make a market survey before advising our farmers to grow the crop again,â€ said Dr Matibiri.
Boka Auction Floor, which has entered an agreement with the TIMB to buy burley tobacco, said it is already housing more than 3800 bales in its floors and has joined hands with a new player in the field, Cuvered Tobacco in mobilising US$1,2 million needed for the purchase and processing of the crop, in a move which will come as a relief to the stranded burley farmers.
â€œThe funds have been mobilised and farmers will be expected to start trickling in on Wednesday,â€ added Dr Matibhiri.
The withdrawal of traditional burley tobacco buyers left farmers stranded with the crop for three months.Â Â