Tobacco sales down 27pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's tobacco sales have declined by 27 percent to $60 million since the opening of the 2015 selling season last month compared to $81 million recorded in the same period last year due to lower prices.

This has resulted in farmers delivering 23 million kilogrammes (kg) of the golden leaf to the country’s auction floors against 26 million kg delivered in the comparable period last year.

Statistics released yesterday by Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Timb), show that farmers who sold 6,2 million kg of the commodity at Boka, Premier and Tobacco Sales auction floors received $12,7 million while contract farmers earned $47 million from the sale of 17 million kg of tobacco.

Tobacco prices have also declined 15,38 percent to average $2,59 per kg this season compared to around $3,06 last year.

Zimbabwean farmers have since 2009 been increasingly engaged in tobacco farming due to its favourable prices compared to cotton and maize prices.

In the 2014/15 season more than 106 000 growers have registered as compared to 92 444 last year.

Out of the registered growers, 26 816 are new growers.

Of these more than 1 000 are new growers from Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland North, areas which were previously non-traditional tobacco growing areas.

In an effort to counter massive deforestation that is taking place as a result of the increased number of small-scale tobacco farmers Timb and tobacco merchants have established a Sustainable Afforestation Association to spearhead reforestation across the country.

According to Forestry Commission data released recently Zimbabwe is estimated to have lost 15 percent of its tree cover in the last 15 years due to deforestation with experts saying at the current rate of loss, the sobering thought is that the country risks turning into a desert in just 35 years.

Meanwhile, at least 220 million kg is expected to be sold this year up from 216 million kg earning the country $621,1 million.

However, agriculture experts believe that the heavy rains the country received in January and February greatly compromised both the quality and quantity of tobacco.

They estimate that a yield of one-and-a-half to two tonnes per hectare has to be reviewed downwards.

At the peak of output, the southern African country produced 236 million kg of tobacco, which is commonly referred to as the golden leaf locally and is grown mainly by small-scale farmers.

Prior the land-reform programme supported by President Robert Mugabe, which began in 2000, the country grew most of its tobacco on large commercial farms.

Zimbabwe traditionally competes with countries including Brazil and the United States as a key source of the top-quality variety of the crop known as flue-cured tobacco.

Comments (4)

Vachinyanyawo varimi vanyowani ava kungoparadza masango vachitema huni dzekupisa fodya yavo,those low prices correspond to the deforestation they are causing.Ngavachinje maitiro and prices will go up.

Gora - 9 April 2015

a farmer is not considered a human being in our country

Tawanda - 10 April 2015

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