Tobacco farmers earn $73mln

HARARE - Farmers have so far pocketed $73 million from the sale of over 27,6 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco compared to $38,5 million last year.

Data from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) yesterday revealed that on day 19, the average price for the golden leaf had surged 8,69 percent to $2,67 per kg from $2,45 per kg in the same period last year.

Of the deliveries, total auction sales stood at about 6,1 million kg valued at $13 million, while contract sales accounted for the remaining 21,5 million kg sold for $60 million.

Rejected bales in the 19 day period stood at 22 609, which was 35 percent higher than the 5 926 rejected bales recorded for the same period last year.

Total bales laid stood at 368 826 up 87,3 percent from the 225 002 recorded for the same period last year.

Bales sold during the 19 day period were up to 52,2 percent from 196 895 to 342 525, as the highest price for the week was 17 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 one percent to 81 kg from 80 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 is 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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