Tobacco earnings near $1bn

HARARE - The 2018 tobacco marketing season ended on Friday with the country having surpassed the 2000 production record of 236 million kiligrammes(kg) which earned Zimbabwe over $920 million.

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that 2018 production increased to 240 million kg setting a new record for Zimbabwe.

Last year production reached 189 million kg.

Grower earnings for 2018 increased from $559 million last year to reach $700 million, while exports for 2018 to date have raked in $220 million.

While the curtain comes down on today, after 88 days of marketing, tobacco exports will continue until the next marketing season in 2019.

Expectations are high that earnings will reach over $1 billion.

“Tobacco has proved to be a good cash crop especially for small-scale farmers in tobacco producing areas,” agricultural economist Peter Gambara said.

There have been outcries by farmers over the poor prices for their tobacco but for 2018 the seasonal average price ranged from $2,90 per kilogramme to $2,96 per kilogramme.

Production has recovered from an all-time low of 48 million kg in 2008.

“Production levels plunged immediately after the redistribution of the land.

“Three factors could have contributed to the decline.

“Firstly, the redistribution itself was meant to be disruptive, farmers had to move, lands had to be cleared and farming implements had to be acquired. Now most farmers have managed to buy the implements and build barns.

“Secondly, most farmers were inexperienced; some had never grown tobacco in their whole farming lives.

“However with time, most have now grasped the agronomy and grading tactics required.

“Some are now experts and are achieving very good yield levels as well as produce good quality tobacco,” Gambara said.

The level of support for the tobacco growers has also improved allowing them to increase hectarage and acquire inputs on time through contract farming.

“Gradually, we have moved more towards contract farming. Whilst only one auction floor was used by the former white farmers, today more than 80 percent of the crop is contracted.

“Contract farming in tobacco ensures that farmers get the necessary inputs in the right amounts and on time. This is key in ensuring that target production yields are achieved,” he said.

Zimbabwe currently exports 98 percent of all tobacco produced.

— The Financial Gazette

Comments (1)

WHERE IS THE MONEY?

Wonder - 31 July 2018

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