Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Security forces cause confusion at auction floor’

‘Security forces cause confusion at auction floor’

Thursday, 23 June 2011 19:41

Bernard Mpofu

A PARLIAMENTARY portfolio committee on agriculture, lands, water and 
resettlement has blamed Zimbabwe’s security forces for exacerbating 
confusion and congestion at the country’s largest tobacco auction floor.

This comes amid a push by legislators for more auction floors, a decision 
facing resistance from industry players.

A report on the operations of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board 
(TIMB) and constraints faced by tobacco growers has revealed numerous 
challenges at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), the largest auction floor by 
volumes, making a lasting solution to perennial problems affecting the 
cash-spinning business appear distant.

“There were abnormally longer and haphazard queues at the Tobacco Sales 
Floors, a situation made worse by several lorries and trucks bearing police 
and military plates which were bypassing the queues,” reads the first report 
of the committee.

The committee, however, proposed that decentralising the auction floors to 
Zimbabwe’s 15 major tobacco growing districts and educating tobacco growers 
on the booking system, among other interventions, could minimise the 

However, some industry players contend that taking the floors to the farmers 
could reduce tobacco prices, which could result in tobacco price wars.

The TIMB, after completing a feasibility study on decentralisation last 
November, this marketing season shelved its plans to embark on the project. 
It instead opted for the decentralisation of booking offices to Mvurwi, 
Chinhoyi, Marondera and Rusape. Last month’s minutes of the TIMB Board 
production and marketing committee meeting with auction floors and buyers 
reveal that tobacco merchants are not ready for more auction floors.

The buyers want tobacco deliveries to hit the 200 million kilogramme mark 
before new players can come on board. Zimbabwe currently has three auction 
floors — TSF, Boka Tobacco Auction Floors and Millennium Tobacco Auction 
Floors — with tobacco deliveries this year expected to hit 177 million kgs. 
Reports also show that to date the TIMB has received at least 10 
applications from would-be auction floor operators.

Apart from competition for the few experienced buyers, the merchants warned 
that increasing the number of auction floors — which would subsequently 
reduce the tobacco selling and marketing period — would also put jobs on the 
line for several casual workers in the sector.


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