China drives Zim tobacco exports

Livingstone Marufu
ZIMBABWE has earned $113 million from 25,2 million kilogrammes of tobacco exports, mainly to Indonesia and China, since January this year.

However, the tobacco export proceeds are $80 million less than the amount of tobacco Zimbabwe exported in the same period last year.

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board’s latest weekly bulletin show that of the country’s total exports, China accounted for over 6,9 million kg valued at $47,02 million while Indonesia bought 3 million kg for $14,6 million.

With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been spending over $200 million a year on Zimbabwean tobacco.

“As of last week March 28, 25,2 million kg were exported to more than 39 countries so far, generating $131,1 million into the local economy,” TIMB said.

“During the same period last year tobacco exports generated $193 million from 39,1 million kg. The golden leaf is presently being exported to these countries at an average price of $4,48 a kg compared to $4,93 (during) the same period last year.”

Belgium bought 3 million kg for $8,3 million at an average price of $2,69 per kg.

Zimbabwe’s neighbour, South Africa has since January bought 2,3 million kg worth $6,7 million at average price of $2,83/kg, followed by Russia, which has spent $4,4 million on 1,5 million kg, while exports to Sudan stand at 1,5 million kg worth $4,4 million.

Other buyers include Bulgaria, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, Netherlands, Germany, Holland, Nigeria, Taiwan, Spain and Tanzania.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s single largest foreign currency earner followed by gold.

Last year tobacco export earned Zimbabwe about $900 million compared to $933 million achieved the previous season.

Across the country, hectarage put under tobacco slightly decreased from 110 518 hectares last year to 104 397 hectares this year.

Mashonaland Central now has about 29 117 hectares under tobacco, while Mashonaland East and West have 34 956ha and 18 674ha, respectively.

Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South have the least number of hectares under the golden leaf at 298ha, 48ha and 2ha, respectively.

According to the TIMB bulletin, the total number of new tobacco growers went up to 34 550 this season from 16 462 in the last season.

Mashonaland Central registered a 232 percent increase in new registrations from 13 690 in the 2016 /17 season to 6744 this season.

Previously, a preserve for commercial farmers, tobacco has become an attractive source of livelihood for many of Zimbabwe’s communal and small scale farmers.

The number of communal farmers taking up tobacco farming had grown to 58 434 as at the review period. The opening of floors late last month is expected to improve foreign currency inflows.

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