Tobacco deliveries up 98pc

HARARE - The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) yesterday said flue-cured tobacco deliveries for the first 13 days have increased by 98 percent this season compared to the same period last year, while sales are up by 124 percent.

By yesterday some 14,5 million kg of tobacco had gone under the hammer fetching $36,5 million for farmers compared to 7,2 million kg valued at $16,2 million sold for the same period last year.

The golden leaf was sold for an average price of $2,53/kg, 13 percent up from the $2,23/kg recorded for the same period last year.

Of the total deliveries, total auction sales stood at 3,8 million kg valued at $7,2 million, while contract sales were 10,6 kg at about $29,2 million.

Rejected bales in the week stood at 7,5 percent of the total 47 percent down from the 14,3 percent rejected prior comparable period. Total bales laid stood at 191 274 up 107,2 percent from the 107 719 recorded for the same period last year.

Bales sold were up 64,2 percent from 92 281 to 176 910 during the week under review, as the highest price for the week was 21 percent lower than the $6,25 recorded prior year at $5,60.

The lowest price offered for the leaf remained flat at $0,10 with the weight of the average bale up three percent to 82kg from 79 kg.

The 2016 tobacco marketing season — which opened on March 30 — is set to have fewer growers as the TIMB figures show that the number of registered growers are down 21 percent to  71 597 from 90 701 recorded during the same period last year.

The country last year failed to surpass 2014’s 14-year high of 213 million kg due to harsh weather conditions and lack of capital. The crop’s marketing and selling season, which traditionally starts mid-February, was delayed, and only started in March due to heavy rains and drought which resulted in low yields.

At its peak, in 2000, the country produced 237 million kg before hitting an all-time low of around 40 million kg in 2008.

Over the years, tobacco farming has become the preferred cash crop for most Zimbabwean farmers, particularly subsistence.

Agriculture experts say more Zimbabweans seem to be shifting from maize production to tobacco due to its better income generation.

The majority of the farmers are under contract farming and this has seen many foreign companies, enter into farming deals with local growers who cannot afford inputs and others costs.

In the early 2000s, Zimbabwe was the second-largest exporter of flue-cured tobacco — a high-quality, lucrative crop — but the sector’s fortunes reversed suddenly with the controversial land reform aimed at addressing colonial land imbalances.

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