Tobacco sales 5pc shy of eclipsing 260 million kg record File Pic

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

THE cumulative flue-cured tobacco sales on the contract and auction floors, at 246 million kg on day 58, are five percent shy of the record-breaking sales of 259m kg in 2019.

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that farmers had, by day 58, sold 246 million kg of flue-cured tobacco worth US$741 million compared to last season’s 158 million kg that earned US$476 million, marking a 56 percent increase in volume and value terms.

The sales figure has eclipsed the second-round crop assessment estimate of 235 million kg as well as the TIMB’s estimate of 240.

Auction floors have so far sold 18 million kg of tobacco worth US$51 million in comparison to last year’s 10 million kg that earned US$33 million.

This is a 71 percent increase in volume terms and a 54 percent rise in value terms.

There has been a 10 percent decline in average auction price from US$3, 19 per kg in 2022 to this year’s US$2, 88.

Auction floor sales account for seven percent of total seasonal sales in volume and value terms.

The contract floors have so far traded 228 million kg with a value of US$690 million against the previous season’s 158 million kg worth US$476 million.

This is a 55 percent increase in volume and a 56 percent surge in value.

There has been a one percent rise in average contract price from US$3, 00 per kg in 2022 against this season’s US$3, 03.

The highest price recorded so far has been US$6, 10 per kg at the contract floors with the auction side recording US$4, 99 per kg. Last year’s highest price was US$6, 80 per kg at the contract floors with the lowest standing at US$0, 10 per kg.

The Government’s reviewing of last season’s foreign currency retention percentage to 85 from 75 this year has seen growers pocketing US$630 million with the balance being paid in local currency at the prevailing interbank rate.

As trading continues farmers are optimistic that this season’s output will break the record.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive officer Mr Rodney Ambrose said their field assessment indicated that 300 million kg were possible if it were not for some challenges farmers experienced due to limited infrastructure and inputs.

“Definitely we will surpass the 260 million kg this marketing season. In the fields, the yield potential was close to 300 million kgs. It was a very good season for tobacco growing however, constraints were on the capacity of curing units and sustainable curing fuel,” said Mr Ambrose.

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