HARARE – Tobacco sales have reached $111 million six weeks after the opening of the 2013 selling season.
According to figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Timb), a total of 31 million kg were sold during the period.
This season has seen a marked improvement in service delivery with the long queues that had become characteristic of every selling season disappearing.
Timb said additional sales teams have since been deployed to auction floors following increased deliveries of the commodity.
At least 182 952 bales were delivered to the three floors — Boka Tobacco, Tobacco Sales and Premier Tobacco — by farmers for auctioning, while 230 075 bales were sold under contract.
A total 27 204 bales were rejected for various reasons this season compared to 21 055 bales recorded last year.
On daily total sales, 699 621 kg worth $2,6 million of the golden leaf were sold on day 19 compared to last year’s figure of 627 304 kg worth $2,3 million.
The regulatory authority said the crop was fetching an average price of $3,77 per kg ahead of prior seasons $3,74.
The country has projected earnings of $600 million from the current selling season which ends in August.
At least 10 796 bales were delivered on the same day for auctioning compared to 9 194 bales during the same period last year.
Agriculture experts contend that the firming in tobacco sales in the country is a reflection of high prices the golden leaf is fetching on the international markets.
A leading United States-based farming publication, the Tobacco Farmer Newsletter (TFN), recently noted a likely improvement in tobacco prices in 2013 as a result of various market factors, including a deficit caused by poor to mediocre quality of flue-cured tobacco in Brazil and the US in the previous two successive seasons.
Flavour-style flue-cured tobacco is grown mainly in the US and Brazil, with Zimbabwe re-emerging after the collapse of its agriculture sector following its fast -track land reform of 2000.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced about 144,5 million kg of tobacco and raked in $527,6 million sales, surpassing the projected 130 million kg.
Since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies, the tobacco industry has become one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown over the last decade.
Agriculture experts contend that small-scale farmers’ attempt to cash in on high prices worldwide has seen tobacco production booming in Zimbabwe.
The sector has been on a rebound as over 70 000 farmers have registered to grow tobacco this season.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s major agricultural exports and accounts for 10,7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Farmers have also been spurred on by Zimbabwe’s adoption of the US dollar following the collapse of its own currency, with 99 percent of all tobacco grown in the country now exported.
Major export destinations include South Africa, China, UK, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia.
Out of the $88 million earned from tobacco exports, South Africa and China are leading the pack having brought in $23 million and $16 million respectively. – Business Writer