Tobacco exports top US$1bn in 2023 If the average price continues on this trajectory, then last season’s total sales of US$897 million can be achieved from the sale of 252 million kilogrammes of the leaf. (File Picture)

Oliver Kazunga-Senior Business Reporter

TOBACCO exports have earned Zimbabwe US$1,2 billion since the beginning of the year compared to US$975 million the country received during the corresponding period last year.

According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), Zimbabwe had exported 233 896 182 kilogrammes of the golden leaf valued at US$1,224 billion as of December 15, 2023.

The average price for the shipments was US5,23 per kg compared to US$4,96 a kg during the same period in 2022.

Last year, during the same period the Southern African country had exported 196 565 784 kg.

Zimbabwe exports the bulk of its golden leaf to countries in the Far East including China and according to the latest TIMB report, a total 109 447 130 kg were shipped to the region, raking in US$779,2 million at an average price of US$7,12/kg.

Africa is the second largest consumer of flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe, having consumed 40 838 898kg valued at US$141,6 million, which was sold at an average price of US$3,47 per kg.

Zimbabwe also exports the golden leaf to the European Union, the Middle East, the rest of Europe and the Americas.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the tobacco sector are optimistic about achieving the target of 300 million kg of the crop in the 2024 marketing season despite the late onset of the rains and the decreased number of registered growers.

As of December 15, 2023, the number of registered growers was 112, 447 compared to 144 446 in the same period last year.

And 94 percent of the registered growers are contracted.

TIMB chairman Patrick Devinish was recently quoted in local media saying despite the delayed onset of the summer cropping season due to late rains, stakeholders in the tobacco industry were optimistic of attaining the 2023 output target.

He said this was on account that the crop did not require much rainfall and coupled with good agronomic practices of farmers.

 “Our early target is 285 million kilogrammes of tobacco, but don’t forget that the rains haven’t come yet and the smallholders haven’t planted yet and they are the biggest, constituting 65 percent of this crop.

“There is nothing to worry about yet, we could easily get 300 million kilogrammes if we get the rains anytime from now.

“As the rains come, we will be able to give more accurate figures because we will be having the hectarages and all that sort of things,” he said.

Tobacco, in Zimbabwe, is grown mainly in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Midlands, Manicaland and in some parts of Masvingo Province.

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