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COVID-19 threatens tobacco selling season

20 Mar 2020. Authorities in Zimbabwe have limited gatherings of people to slow the spread of COVID-19, threatening the tobacco selling season, reported The Zimbabwe Mail.

Thousands of farmers are drawn to Harare during the tobacco selling season, as well as multiple selling points outside the capital, to partake in the trading of the country’s largest foreign currency earner. Many other traders and small businesses also partake in the annual event. However, given the current Coronavirus threat, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has requested guidance from authorities on whether to go ahead with opening the markets.

According to the report, as of March 18, it was unclear whether the Minister of Health had made a decision. On March 17, however, President Mnangagwa announced a variety of measures intended to slow the virus, including banning gatherings of over 100 people. Andrew Matibiri, the TIMB CEO, has written to stakeholders in the value chain about the uncertainty, in a letter seen by the Review & Mail.