HARARE – Zimbabwe has earned over $246 million from the export of 42,5 million kilogrammes (kg) of flue-cured tobacco since the beginning of the marketing season in March this year.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the country’s seasonal exports improved from the $234,2 million receipts recorded prior year comparable period after 39 million kg were sold.
However, this year’s average price per kg at $5,79 was lower than prior comparable period’s $6,01.
Asian economic giant, China, remains Zimbabwe’s top tobacco destination after snapping 20,2 million kilogrammes (kg) of the golden leaf at $163,8 million followed by South Africa which purchased 8,1 million kg at $24,8 million.
Indonesia came in third after purchasing 2,1 million kg valued at $11,6 million, while Russia was next after purchasing two million kg of tobacco at $6,7 million.
China also tops in terms of the country that has been offering the highest price at $8,11 per kg.
The TIMB data shows that Zimbabwe has sold its tobacco to 44 countries across the world.
Meanwhile, tobacco auction sales for 2016 recorded 16,5 million kg at $2,48/kg after 37 days of trading.
Contract sales for this year recorded 67 million kg at $2,97/kg raking in over $198,8 million since the opening of the current marketing season.
The current seasonal sales at 83,3 million kg is 435,4 percent above 2015 auction output.
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 19,2 percent to 62 568 bales from 77 509 bales in 2015, due to improved quality of the crop.
The traditional February start of the sales season was delayed due to an El Nino-induced drought, which prompted TIMB to predict a smaller harvest.
At the turn of the millennium, 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.
Agriculture experts say more Zimbabweans seem to be shifting from maize production to tobacco due to its better income generation.
The majority of the farmers are under contract farming and this has seen many foreign companies, enter into farming deals with local growers who cannot afford inputs and others costs.