At least $422 729 worth of tobacco weighing 191 891 kilogrammes was sold on the first day of the marketing season on Wednesday, according to figures released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

The average price for the three auction floors was $2,20 per kg, 45 percent higher than the $1,51 on the opening day of the 2016 marketing season.

TIMB licensed Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Auction Floors and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors to conduct the auctions.

The highest price was pegged at $4,80/kg, while rejected bales stood at 363 compared to 704 last year.

Some of the reasons for rejected bales included oversized, underweight, badly handled and mixed hands.

A total of 2 919 bales were laid, with 2 556 being sold.

The electronic marketing system was used in the morning at the floors, before it was shelved after stakeholders felt that the platform was slower than the manual system.

TIMB spokesperson Mr Isheunesu Moyo said they were fully committed to ensuring that the e-marketing system was operationalised across the marketing platform.

“We are committed to the full implementation of the e-marketing,” he said. “We are experiencing teething problems that we are working on.

“We do not want to inconvenience farmers, we will continue to use the machines, but if there are problems, we will revert to the manual system. Our consultants from India will be in the country soon to assist us in that regard.”

Farmers interviewed at the auction floors said they preferred the electronic marketing because of its inherent objective of promoting transpar- ency.

“Another good thing about the e-marketing is that the gadget does not bid downwards, but upwards unlike the manual system which could go either way,” said one farmer at TSF.

Tobacco on contract farming will be sold separately at auction floors like Chidziva Tobacco Processors and Northern Tobacco