Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The country has this year earned US$88 million from the exportation of 14,5 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco to various markets.
This is an increase from the US$9 million earned during the same period last year when the country exported three million kilogrammes of tobacco.
Figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that by January 18, the country had exported 14,5 million kgs worth US$88 million compared to 2 960 720 kgs worth US$9 921 258 last year.
According to TIMB, 22 countries have imported flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe compared to 18 last year.
So far China is the major buyer, having procured 7,2 million kilogrammes worth US$64,3 million at an average price of US$8,93 per kilogramme.
Meanwhile, tobacco farmers are pleading with Government to consider allocating them a higher percentage of foreign currency when they sell their crop during the 2019 marketing season for them to be able to go back to the fields and remain viable.
The farmers said considering the high costs of production they incurred during this season, it will be ideal if they were paid the bulk of their money in foreign currency.
Goromonzi farmer Mr Boniface Chitate said he was expecting higher prices during this marketing season and part of the payment in foreign currency.
“We need to import implements and these require foreign currency,” he said.
“Farmers are relying on buying foreign currency at the parallel market and this is not viable.
“The situation is worse for self-financed farmers as we sometimes have to fund our tobacco crop using proceeds from other enterprises.
“We commend Government for letting us import some commodities duty free, but we still require foreign currency.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, who is also chairman of the Federation of Farmers’ Unions, Mr Shadreck Makombe, said farmers should unite and speak with one voice.
“We are engaging Government and other relevant stakeholders to see how farmers can realise the real value from their produce this year,” he said.
“While at the moment we are concerned about foreign currency retentions from tobacco, we are also looking at other export crops such as cotton, peas and flowers, among others.”
Mr Makombe said it was unfortunate that individual farmers were experiencing challenges when importing agricultural implements and this was negatively affecting production.