HARARE – Zimbabwe has so far exported flue-cured tobacco worth $164 million to China, a development that is expected to ease liquidity challenges in the country, figures from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate.
According to TIMB, the Asian economic giant remains Zimbabwe’s top tobacco destination after snapping up 20,2 million kilogrammes (kg) of the golden leaf followed by South Africa which purchased 5,5 million at $16,8 million.
Belgium came in third after purchasing 1,9 million kg valued at $9,9 million, while Indonesia was fourth after the Asian country bought 1,8 million kg at $10,2 million.
China also tops in terms of the country that has been offering the highest price at $8,11 per kg.
Cumulatively, tobacco exports stood at $229 million for the period under review, as a total of 37,4 million kg were sold.
TIMB figures show that Zimbabwe has sold its tobacco to 37 countries across the world.
Meanwhile, tobacco auction sales for 2016 recorded 12,7 million kg at $2,45/kg after 31 days of trading.
Contract sales for this year recorded 51 million kg at $2,93/kg raking in over $150 million since the opening of the current marketing season.
The current seasonal sales at 63,8 million kg is 42,3 percent above 2015 auction output.
Both contract sales value and price for 2016 have also improved by 45 percent and 1,57 percent to $180 million and $2,83 per kg respectively compared to previous season.
While the lowest price that has been recorded so far is $0, 10 per kg, the number of bales that have been rejected so far has gone down 22 percent to 48 250 bales from 61 599 bales in 2015, due to improved quality of the crop.
The traditional February start of the sales season was delayed due to El Nino-induced drought, which prompted TIMB to predict a smaller harvest.
In the early 2000s, Zimbabwe was the second-largest exporter of flue-cured tobacco — a high-quality, lucrative crop — but the sector’s fortunes reversed suddenly with the controversial land reform aimed at addressing colonial land imbalances.