MTC losses $15mln worth of tobacco in warehouse fire

MTC losses $15mln worth of tobacco in warehouse fire

HARARE, July 23 (The Source) –  Tobacco processor and exporter, Mashonaland Tobacco Company (MTC) on Thursday lost tobacco worth millions of dollars after a fire broke out at one of its warehouses, officials said.

MTC, which employs over 1,000 workers, is owned by American leaf merchant, Alliance One International.

Finance Director Walker Ntini told The Source that the fire started around 10am and was still raging in the evening after seven hours, with the fire brigade still trying to put it out.

“Yes there has been a fire in one of our smaller warehouses the fire department has been here since 10 in the morning trying to put it out,” he said, adding that the cause of the fire was yet to be established.

“Right now we are still trying to put out the fire so we do not know if it is going to spread from the warehouse to the other buildings. We would have to do a proper assessment after so that we can ascertain the extent of the damage.”

Officials said the warehouse had four million kilogrammes of high grade tobacco with a value of between $12 million to $15 million and had been earmarked for export to China.

Witnesses said the fire brigade had run out of water several times.

MTC is among the biggest players in Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry. In the 2013/14 agriculture season it purchased $79,9 million worth of tobacco from contracted growers.

So far the company has purchased 30 million kg, the bulk from contract farmers.