Tobacco rakes in $4m

HARARE - Zimbabwe raked in $4 million from the sale of 1 201 646 kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco at an average of $3,33 per kg after three days of selling, the Tobacco Industry and marketing Board (TIMB) said.

However, this was a slump from the $4,7 million realised on the sale of 1 322 686 kg — at an average $3,52 per kg — same period last season.

The tobacco selling season opened last Wednesday, with the golden leaf earning $800 000 on the first day of trade.

Of the $4 million, a total $787,555 came from Tobacco Sales Floors, which sold 255,621 kg at an average price of $3,08 per kg while Boka Tobacco Floors contributed $474 551 after selling 163 935 kg at $2,89 per kg.

Premier Tobacco Floors contributed $ 465 230 after selling 161 012 kg at $2,89 per kg, while the balance of $2 273 476 was realised from contract buyers who sold 621 078 kg.

A total of 14 159 bales were sold while 1 396 were rejected.

Zimbabwe’s current tobacco production remains way below the peak levels of 236 million kg achieved in the year 2000, before the country’s farm seizures under the land reform programme.

In 2009, output slumped to 58,6 million kg, reflecting the effects of the political and subsequent economic crisis that peaked during 2008.

Zimbabwe’s tobacco output may rise by 23 percent to around 170 million kg this season, as more farmers grow the crop.

According to TIMB, the number of registered tobacco growers has almost doubled in the last year to 66 000 compared to 34 673 last season.

Zimbabwe is the world’s fourth-biggest exporter of flue-cured tobacco, after Brazil, India and the US, according to Universal Corparation — Virginia, the largest leaf merchant.
Tobacco is one of the country’s major agricultural exports, accounting for 10,7 percent of gross domestic product.

Major export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include China, UK, South Africa, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia.

The flue-cured variety — the top quality tobacco — is used to provide flavour to brands like Marlboro and Benson and Hedges.

The country earned $517 million from tobacco sales last year, according to the Finance ministry. - Business Writer

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