Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has exported 103 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco worth US$392 million, with South Africa and China being the major buyers of the golden leaf.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board latest export statistics, Zimbabwe has exported 109 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco worth US$392 million to various destinations.
Of the exported crop, South Africa bought 26,7 million kilogrammes worth US$87 million at an average price of US$ 3,25 per kilogramme, while China has imported 17 million kilogrammes worth US$120 million at an average price of US$7,04 per kilogramme.
United Arab Emirates, Mozambique and Belgium are some of the countries importing high volumes of tobacco from Zimbabwe.
Among those offering highest prices are Papua New Guinea which is offering US$7,05 per kilogramme, Dominican Republic offering US$7,17 per kilogramme, Netherlands offering US$7,37 per kilogramme and China US$7,04 per kilogramme.
Zimbabwe used to be an exporter of raw tobacco, but a few companies have sprouted and are now processing cigarettes locally and exporting the finished product.
TIMB chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri recently confirmed that some local companies were adding value to tobacco before exporting to boost earnings from the crop.
“Some companies are now manufacturing cigarettes and exporting,” he said. “If we can get markets, the people will start processing the crop. What is important is developing the brand. Exporting is about developing a good brand.
“We are encouraged by Savanna Tobacco that has managed to get a contract to manufacture cigarettes for a Chinese company. We are encouraging value addition.”
Zimbabwe is also producing cigar wrapper tobacco in Burma Valley and exporting it, with plans underway to start the wrapping of the cigar locally beginning 2020.