Tobacco export earnings exceed US$1bn, as dry land tobacco planting continues
Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer
WITH farmers’ anxieties now scaling beyond the intrinsic stress of farming, thanks to the firming signs of a possible bad season, tobacco export earnings have not been static but growing to over US$1 billion as at November 10 while dry land farmers have also continued to plant their tobacco unabated.
Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) weekly report 45 dated November 10 show that there was a 41 percent increase in the value of exported tobacco from US$753 142 691 in the period January to November 10 in 2022 to US$1 064 509 784 in the comparable period this year.
There was a 28 percent increase in volume terms from 157 947 713 to 202 678 140 kilogrammes this year.
The average price rose 10 percent from US$4, 77 to US$5, 25 per kilogramme.
The Far East market accounts for 64 percent of the earnings followed by European Union (EU) and Africa at 14 and 12 percent respectively.
The Far East market had the largest average price of US$7, 19 with the EU and Africa coming second and third with US$4, 37 and US$3, 43 per kilogramme correspondingly.
In terms of volume, the Far East’s market share was 47 percent against Africa and EU’s 18 and 16 percent separately.
In terms of plant position for the exports, the report show that the leaf contributed 53 percent, followed by lug at 25, primming with 10 and others at six percent. The tip had 2, 91 percent of the tobacco exports while the cutter was on 2, 77 and lastly smoking tobacco at 0, 02 percent.
Meanwhile, the report shows that there was a slight three percent decrease in total area under tobacco from 28 554 hectares in 2022 to 27 615 this year.
The forecast of the El Nino weather phenomenon has however seen a 10 percent increase in irrigated area from 15 781 to 17 395 hectares.
The area planted under dry land tobacco dropped 20 percent from 12 773 hectares to 10 220.
Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces recorded 15 and eight percent rises in area planted while Mashonaland East and West provinces noted a 11 and eight percent decline in area planted.
The 2023/24 season has seen 107 415 growers registered against 143 660 during the same period last year, a 25 percent drop. Out of registered growers, 92 percent of them are contracted growers.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) chairman Mr George Seremwe said the majority of farmers had started planting having been aided by the last rains received in most areas in the country while some are planting using water bowsers.
“We hope mother nature will hear us this coming two weeks because we might lose some of the planted tobacco, if it does not rain,” he said.
Tobacco Farmers Union Trust (TFUT) president Mr Victor Mariranyika concurred saying planting was continuing depending on whether a farmer has a reliable source of water for planting.
“We encourage farmers to do their best to mitigate negative effects of El Nino and those who have not yet started planting must continue attending to nurseries and prepare land,” he said.