Tobacco export earnings up 13pc

ZIMBABWE’s tobacco export earnings have risen 13 percent to $380,6 million from $334,8 million, but the average price has since come off marginally.

The bulk of the tobacco to mainly South Africa and China since the beginning of 2017. Statistics from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board’s Week 35 Bulletin for the week ending September 1 show that China accounted for over 18,6 million kgs valued at US$148,8 million while South Africa bought 12,1 million kgs for $32,5 million.

With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been spending over $200 million per annum on Zimbabwean tobacco. Part of the TIMB bulletin reads, “As of September 1, 2017, 87,5 million kilogrammes were exported to more than 57 countries, generating $380,6 million into the local economy.

“The golden leaf is presently being exported to these countries at an average price of $4, 35 a kg compared to $5,02 (in) the same period last year.” Indonesia has spent $23,4 million on 5,4 million kg at an average price of $4,23 per kg and Belgium has bought 9,6 million kg valued at $22,5 million.

Russia has purchased 3,3 million kg worth $10,6 million at an average price of $3,22 per kg. Other buyers include the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Sudan and Tanzania.

Tobacco farmers have so far grossed $557,1 million after delivering 188 million kg of tobacco to the auction floors. By the same period in 2016, farmers had delivered 202,2 million kilogrammes worth $595,9 million. Average price per kg has remained flat at $2,96 against the comparative periods.

Cumulatively, the country has so far earned $937 million compared to $929 million in 2016. The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union highlighted that the total area planted has increased this year due to good rainfall patterns.

New growers increased by 103 percent to 54 806 in 2016 to 26 995 in 2016. A total of 16 617 growers have sold through the auction system and 48 896 growers through the contract system.

Seed sales increased by 331percent to 33, 45kg in 2017 from 7,75kg in 2016. The e-marketing system has stabilised a bit; however, there is still need to increase the speed of the biding process and users training.

Cash challenges continue as some banks are failing to meet the withdrawal limits set by RBZ.

This year tobacco is likely to miss its projected target of 205 million kg.

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