Zimbabwe’s 2020 tobacco marketing started on Wednesday (April 29th) with minimized human traffic at auction floors to avoid further spread of the coronavirus, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) announced.
The marketing of the crop will be conducted mainly through virtual sales, with farmers not agreeable to this arrangement advised to wait for further developments regarding #COVID-19 regulations.
The TIMB advised auction floors to consolidate tobacco deliveries to minimize the number of farmers coming to Harare, and encouraged contract farmers outside Harare to make use of selling points provided by their contractors in the provinces.
The 2020 marketing season, which usually starts in March, was delayed due to the #COVID-19 pandemic.
Zimbabwe, currently under lockdown until May 3, has recorded four deaths from 31 #COVID-19 cases recorded so far.
Among other #COVID-19 preventive measures, the TIMB said farmers will be allowed to deliver tobacco for sale only once per week while those selling less than 100 bales will not be allowed to attend sales and shall nominate a TIMB registered grower representative to make decisions on their behalf.
No vending, banking facilities and operation of flea markets outside auction floors will be allowed.
The TIMB said each selling point shall have a designated isolation facility while only essential persons will be allowed to enter premises and will be screened.
“The wearing of face masks is mandatory for everyone entering the floors and there will be continuous disinfection of premises,” it said.
“All selling points should have the technological capacity to enable growers to follow their virtual sales away from sales floors,” the TIMB said.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s main foreign currency earners. Last year, the country sold 259 million kg of tobacco leaf worth US$518M.