The company invested about 1 million U. S. dollars in setting up the sales floor, and has entered into a partnership with a local company to process tobacco sold at the floors.
The development is expected to ease congestion at the two existing auction floors — Boka Auction Floors and at Tobacco Sales Floors (TSF).
Opening the sales floor, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said the coming on board of Tian Ze was timely given the growth of the tobacco industry.
“The opening of this floor will complement the expected growth of crop output from 123 million kg last year to 170 million kg this year as well as the increase in the number of growers,” he was quoted by New Ziana as saying.
“The participation of Tian Ze on both contract and auction purchasing has resulted in higher prices for our growers, thereby increasing farmers’ viability and the economy at large,” Made said.
Made commended Tian Ze for helping resuscitate the tobacco industry which had been struggling in the last decade.
“Tian Ze amongst other contractors put trust into the system and started supporting growers in terms of inputs, working capital and agronomy support,” he said.
Tian Ze Managing Director Zhang Qinggang said tobacco contract growing had grown significantly from its inception in 2005.
“The number of contracted farmers has grown to the current 170 growers with a total hactarage of 5,000 hectares. During the 2009- 2010 season Tian Ze got a market share of 12 percent of contract tobacco farming and 20 percent of the auction floors’ tobacco,” he said.
Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive Andrew Matibiri also welcomed Tian Ze’s participation in both contract farming and auction sales.
“The company’s participation in the industry has resulted in the great enthusiasm and gratitude that is being displayed by growers and other stakeholders,” he said.
Tian Ze last year supported tobacco farmers to the tune of 50 million dollars. The support was extended through contract farming.
Tian Ze, which started operating in the country in 2005, is a subsidiary of China Tobacco Company, one of the largest “golden leaf” processing firm in the world.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) Chairman Njodzi Machirori said the presence of the Chinese in the sector was pushing up tobacco prices.
The golden leaf was fetching an average of 4 dollars per kg when the marketing season kicked off last week.
An estimated 170 million kg of the golden leaf is expected to go under the hammer this season.