Livingstone Marufu Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has earned over $360 million from tobacco exports in the first four and half months of this year, latest official statistics show.
For their toil, farmers pocketed the lion’s share of the proceeds at $236,3 million while exporters (merchants) received $123,9 million.
Over the same period last year, Zimbabwe earned at least $424 million due to an increased export earnings of $207,9 million prior to the start of the marketing season.
The country’s export earnings are expected to increase exponentially until after the end of the marketing season in August.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says; “Tobacco farmers have delivered 82,4 million kg and have earned $236,3 million in the process.
“The average earnings per kilogramme stands at $2,87 per kg against last year’s $2,76/kg, and this signifies a 3,7 percent increase. This shows that this year’s prices are more attractive than last year’s, which is good news for the farmers.”
Contractors have so far received delivery of over 69,3 million kg, earning $199,1 million in the process, while the auction floors bought 13,1 million kg worth $37,1 million.
Contracted tobacco farmers have sold their tobacco for an average price of $2,87/kg against $2,83/kg at the auction floors.
To date, Zimbabwe has earned $123,4 million from 28,4 million kg of tobacco exported mainly to Indonesia and China since the beginning of 2018.
Tobacco has been exported to 39 countries so far.
TIMB’s latest weekly bulletin shows that China accounted for over 7,09 million kg valued at $47,4 million while Indonesia bought 3,1 million kg valued at $15,1 million.
However, the tobacco export proceeds are $85 million behind last year’s exports for the same period.
With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been spending over $200 million per annum on Zimbabwean tobacco, regarded among the best in the world.
During the same period last year tobacco exports generated $205,2 million from a total of 42,6 million kg. Tobacco is presently being exported to these countries at an average price of $4,43/kg compared to $4,81 (during) the same period last year.
Belgium has this year bought 3,2 million kg valued at $8,7 million at an average price of $2,73 per kg.
South Africa has so far bought 2,4 million kg worth $6,8 million (average price of $2,76/kg), followed by Russia , which has spent $5,9 million on 1,8 million kg, while Sudan stands at 1,5 million worth $4,4 million.
Other buyers are from Bulgaria, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Nigeria, Taiwan, Spain and Tanzania.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earners followed by gold. Last year tobacco exports topped $900 million, which was a marginal decrease from the $933 million the previous season.
Across the country, the area put under tobacco has slightly decreased from 110 518 hectares last year to 104 397ha.
Mashonaland Central now has about 29 117 hectares under tobacco, while Mashonaland East and West have 34 956 ha 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.
Buyers have mobilised $900 million for the purchase of this year’s tobacco.