TOBACCO contract sales have raked in US$576.7 million since the closure of the self-funded auction floors.

The latest Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics indicated that tobacco worth US$576.7 million was sold in 79 days compared to the US$549.5 million sold last year.

Self-funded auction floors closed at US$39.5 million on Wednesday last week.

Farmers complained to the board that they still had more leaf to sell, prompting the board to extend the auction floors on every Wednesday until the last mop up sale on August 17.

Since the suspension of Boka Auction Floors from trading, self-funded farmers only had two options where they could sell their tobacco — Tobacco Sales Floor and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor.

Speaking to the Daily News recently, TIMB chief executive officer Meanwell Gudu said despite Covid-19 disturbances, drought and a harsh economic environment, tobacco has thrived to fetch better sales this marketing season.

“The average price is 10 percent firmer as compared to last year and the prices are better than last year, although the volume we have sold so far is less as compared to last year, but on the value of the crop, it is higher.

“There is a lot more hope for tobacco production going forward, but we also have issues that we need to look at.

“As we increase our production, we also need to pay particular attention to compliance with sustainability. We are now under pressure from our customers to comply with sustainable issues.

“If we want to remain relevant as a supplier in the global market, we need to improve on our quality. Currently, we need to have our best grades one to three to be constituting 65 percent of our total volume, currently we are lower than that as we are around 55 percent,” he said. – Daily News