INTRODUCTION: Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has been deliberately reduced this year but on the second day of the season's 75-day auction prices were up by about 70 percent.
GV Tobacco sales warehouse, buyers inspecting quality, as auctioneer chants bids. (2 SHOTS)
SV Auctioneer accepts bids.
CU Cured tobacco leaf ZOOM OUT TO SV buyers examining leaf.
LV Auction warehouse with buyers grouped around auctioneer.
SV Courtney Ainsley, Director of African Leaf Company speaking.
GV, SV Buyers looking at tobacco laid out on tables, as Ainsley continues speaking. (2 SHOTS)
GV Bales of cured tobacco moving through warehouse on indoor track.
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
SEQ. 5: AINSLEY:"The farmers have had an excellent growing season, with plenty of rainfall. This has resulted in a very, very good quality crop, which rivals the quality of the tobacco farmed in the United States of America. Thus the prices have risen considerably over the prices last year, which, as a merchant tobacco man, frightens me a little, because I've got to sell this now to manufacturers worldwide, but which is in its own way a very good thing to keep the farmer on the land, to keep the farmer happy. He's getting a good return for his money. He's had a lot of increase in growing costs lately, in farm labour and wages, and he needs this return."
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has been deliberately reduced this year but on the second day of the season's 75-day auction prices were up by about 70 percent. The higher price for this year's excellent crop will help offset the 40 percent drop in production of what is Zimbabwe's traditionally biggest export.
SYNOPSIS: There were 400 fewer tobacco producers this year because of the exodus of white farmers after Zimbabwe's independence. Many farmers who stayed, diversified from tobacco to maize, cotton and coffee. The tobacco crop dropped from 122.5 million kilos (about 120,000 tons) to 73 million (72,000 tons). Most of the tobacco produced is Virginia flue-cured. It makes up 96 percent of Zimbabwe production.
The switch to raising maize was encouraged by a promised price increase, and a bumper crop was harvested. Director of the African Leaf Company, Courtney Ainsley, explained the higher tobacco prices.
So natured has provided a bountiful harvest for Zimbabwe during its first year of independence which has given the farming community renewed confidence. And although the Marketing Board's promised increase for maize this year will prove expensive for the government, the million ton surplus crop will add to the tobacco export income.