tobacco selling 2011.jpg61 million kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$173 million have so far been sold at the country’s auction floors, recording a 33% increase in volumes sold compared to the same period last year.

33 million kilogrammes have been sold under the contract system, while the three auction floors account for 28.6 million kilogrammes.

According to statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the average seasonal price of the golden leaf is 2 dollars 81 cents, which is 9.3% lower than last year’s seasonal average of 3 dollars 10 cents.

By day 50 of the selling season a total of 764 000 bales had been sold out of 824 000 bales laid, with 60 000 being rejected.

Tobacco farmers who spoke to ZBC News at Boka Auction floors said trading is going on smoothly although they complained that the crop was fetching low prices.

One farmer said: “We are getting only 1 dollar 20 cents per kilogramme”.

“They are saying there is no more money,” another farmer said.

“I was looking forward to getting 4 dollars per kilogramme but I got $1.20.They should look into the issue,” another farmer said.

Other farmers alleged tobacco merchants had formed a cartel to offer low prices.

According to research, it appears there is inadequate knowledge among farmers on how the auction system operates.

At least 170 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf are expected to go under the hammer this season, as the tobacco hectarage significantly improved from last season.