Tobacco sales surpass last year's

HARARE - Zimbabwe has so far sold 145 million kg of tobacco worth $537 million since opening of the 2013 selling season mid-February, surpassing last year’s 144 million kg.

The commodity, being sold at three licensed auction floors — Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), Boka Tobacco Auction Floors (BTAF) and Premier Tobacco Floors (PTF) — is this year expected to rake in over $600 million.

Figures released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that of the $537 million, TSF sold 20 million kg at an average price of $3,62 per kg, BTAF 17,8 million kg at $3,53 per kg while PTF sold 12,7 million kg at $3,52 per kg.

The bulk of the sales came from contract sales, which brought in $357 million from 95 million kg.

Zimbabwe — which produced approximately 240 million kg of tobacco at its peak — plans to sale at least 170 million kg this year.

A total 1 882 237 bales have been sold so far compared to 1 419 236 bales sold in the same period last year.

Rejected bales have also significantly increased to 83 012 from 78 284 bales recorded in the prior period.

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 Corporation — 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 South Africa, China, United Kingdom, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia. - John Kachembere

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