Tobacco earnings surge

HARARE – Zimbabwe has earned $584,4 million from the sale of 158,2 million kg of tobacco sold at an average price of $3,70 per kg since the marketing season opened at the beginning of February.

The volume of tobacco sold to date is a 19,7 percent improvement from the 132 million kgs worth $488 million sold during the comparable period last year.

Data released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) shows that of the total tobacco sold, 105 million kgs were through contract sales while the remainder went under the hammer.

The 2013 flue-cured tobacco selling season closed yesterday after 99 selling days while the 2012 selling season lasted 145 days.

Andrew Matibiri, TIMB chief executive said the decision to end the season was necessitated by the slowdown in tobacco deliveries.

“Tobacco sales continue to trickle in at average daily sales of 600 000 kg.

“However, auction sales deliveries have significantly dropped from the peak of around 8 000 bales per floor per day to the current average of 500 bales per floor per day,” he said.

Matibiri said although the auction floors have closed contract sales will continue until further notice.

Last year, the country produced about 144,5 million kg of tobacco against a projection of 130 million kg, with sales raking in $527,6 million.

This season, 170 million kgs were targeted to go under the hammer. To date, about 82 833 growers have registered for the 2013 season compared to about 58 801 who had registered by the same period last year.

Small-scale farmers are dominating as they constitute more than 80 percent of the registered growers. There are 35 755 A1 registered growers, 32 966 communal, 7 843 small-scale and 6 278 A2 farmers.

The growth in the number of tobacco growers has been attributed to the increase in the number of farmers due to the land reform and the attractive prices being offered by buyers.

The attractive prices have seen 30 percent of traditional cotton growers shifting to tobacco during this season.

Since the adoption of multiple currency system, the tobacco industry has become one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown of the past decade.

Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’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.

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