HARARE – Zimbabwe’s 2019 tobacco marketing season will open on March 20 with growers retaining 50 percent of their net export proceeds, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya said Monday.
He said the central bank and farmers will hold further discussions on the period that farmers should keep their retained forex earnings after the central bank last month gave the exporters only 30 days after which the unutilized money will be put on the market.
The governor said this after being quizzed by the parliamentary committee on public accounts on why the central bank had given farmers such as short time, considering that some may want to keep proceeds to prepare for the next season.
The governor said the central bank had put this requirement so that it can have resources to import essential commodities such as fuel and drugs considering the ongoing shortage of foreign currency in the country.
He said the tobacco farmers had asked for the retention period to be extended to between 90 and 180 days.
Chair of the parliamentary committee Tendai Biti also urged the central bank to have a re-look at the exchange rate it will use to exchange the retained forex, saying the prevailing 2.50 against the US dollar will be "unjustified" when black market rates are hovering around 3.60.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s second-biggest export earning commodity after gold, and the opening of the marketing season is expected to improve the country’s foreign currency inflows.