Tobacco sales breezed past 200 million kg on Tuesday, earning $583 million owing to the introduction of export incentives and improved agronomic practices last year, an official has said.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
During the comparable period last year, 157 million kg went under the hammer raking in $457 million. Data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing (TIMB) showed that 200 314 164kg of the golden leaf had gone under the hammer as of Tuesday. Last year, total production was 201 million kg.
TIMB spokesperson, Isheunesu Moyo told NewsDay that tobacco farming was fast becoming a lucrative business.
“Tobacco farming is lucrative and more and more people are getting into tobacco farming. We for instance had 82 000 farmers and this year, the numbers have increased to 146 000 a clear indication that the sector is improving.
“Agronomic practices are also improving. This enhances quality and productivity,” Moyo said.
Moyo said the introduction of export incentives last year was the other contributing factor for the increase in the number of farmers taking up tobacco,” he said.
During the period under review, 130 313 bales were rejected owing to various reasons ranging from overweight to too much moisture content among other reasons.
During the same period last year, 2 138 017 bales were laid, while 128 483 were rejected ,translating to 2 015 534 being sold.
TIMB also indicated that the average selling price for the season was so far pegged at $2,91 a kg which is the same as that of last year, but the price is expected to increase as the season progresses.
Currently, Zimbabwe exports flue-cured tobacco to over 70 countries in the world and some of these include China, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Brazil, India, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Jordan and the United Kingdom.
Tobacco is one of the country’s major foreign currency earners. Government has been rolling out support with the central bank increasing the export incentive facility to 12,5% from 5% to drive output of the golden leaf.