Zimbabwean farmers have so far sold 222,6 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth US$432.9 million, 4 percent lower than last year’s 231,8 million kg, figures released by the industry regulator show.
Statistics released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board on day 77 of sale show that during the same period last year, at least 231,8 million kg tobacco worth $676,9 million had been sold.
Traditionally, the tobacco selling season lasts 90 days.
The golden leaf is being sold at an average price of $1,94 per kilogram, a 33 percent decline from last year’s average price of $2,92 per kg.
Prices have, however, firmed with the contract sales recording highest price of US$5,75 and US$4,99 per kg at the auction.
Last year, the country produced an all-time high of 252 million kilogrammes of tobacco, earning at least a billion dollars in revenue.
According to the second Crop and Livestock Assessment report for the 2018/19 season, Zimbabwe is expecting 185,7 million kg of tobacco.
The tobacco being sold this year was grown under grim weather conditions characterised by late rains and prolonged dry spells, particularly when the crop was almost ready for harvesting, prompting authorities to review projections downwards.
Tobacco is the country’s second biggest foreign currency earner, after minerals, though the bulk of the crop is exported in its raw form with the exports generating in excess of US$1 billion annually.
Once a preserve for white commercial farmers, tobacco is arguably one of the success stories of agriculture in the post land reform era.
This tobacco selling season, the number of registered growers increased by 40 percent to 171 743, with more than 40 000 growers registering for the first time. – New Ziana.