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Tobacco Farmers Protest Over Low Prices as Marketing Season Kicks Off

FILE - Indigenous tobacco farmers are seen at Boka Tobacco auction floors, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday May 14, 2013.

The official opening of this year’s tobacco auction season at the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors was Wednesday disrupted by protesting farmers who were unhappy with the low prices.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president, Wonder Chabikwa, who was at the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors when the protest started, said the prices were too low for farmers that invested a lot in the cultivation of the tobacco crop.

Chabikwa said they will only wait to hear from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board to get information about the low prices.

Police were called in to restrain the protesting farmers who were singing and denouncing the authorities for the low tobacco prices.

The first bale of tobacco that went under the hammer fetched $3.50 before the prices tanked by almost 20c per kilogram.

​Last year the first sales saw one bale fetching as high as $4.85 a kilogram but the prices later fell, prompting some farmers to hold on to their crop for some time.

Studio 7 failed to reach Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer, Andrew Matibiri, who was not responding to calls made on his mobile phone.

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