The opening of the 2020 tobacco marketing season which was scheduled for 20 April, has been postponed to a date yet to be finalised, a government official has said.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro revealed that the postponement was done to allow stakeholders to devise mechanisms to sell the crop in a way that reduces the spread of the coronavirus.
Addressing stakeholders in the tobacco sector at an online mock sale of the crop held at Northern Tobacco Auction Floors on Monday, Karoro said:
I know the people out there want to know the exact date of the start of the marketing season.
This is part of the assessments that we have done and we are going to inform our colleagues and the minister so that he also prepares a statement for onward transmission to the President and I am sure if we are happy here with these preparations, then the minister and the President will also be happy and they will guide us accordingly on the final date.
The online mock sale of tobacco was done to show stakeholders how farmers can sell the crop without being physically present on the floors.
Co-Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Vangelis Haritatos urged farmers to consider selling their tobacco online.
Speaking about the decentralisation of tobacco auction floors, Northern Tobacco chief executive Glen Youngs said the idea is a noble one. However, it will be difficult to implement this season due to limited space in other areas outside of Harare.