Tobacco deliveries exceed expectations

Natasha Kokai
Zimbabwe’s final flu-cured tobacco delivery statistics closed at an all-time record of 244 million kilogrammes, with the increased production being attributed to high selling prices that have lured about 145 000 farmers, compared to 98 000 last season.

Recently, the country celebrated after deliveries surpassed the 237 million kg recorded in 2000.

The achievement further cemented Zimbabwe’s position as top tobacco producer on the continent and sixth in the world.

Figures from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) show that at the close of the tobacco selling season a fortnight ago, at least 244,1 million kg had been delivered.

Earlier projections had pegged the final deliveries at 240 million kg.

About 189 kg was delivered in 2017.

The delivery statistics are anticipated to increase further as the auction floors open briefly from later this month or early September to cater for the remaining crop through mop-up sales.

This year’s tobacco deliveries saw a total 145 000 registered farmers earning more than $713 million, compared to $513 million achieved last season from 98 000 farmers.

TIMB chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri told The Sunday Mail that this year’s deliveries were higher than expected because of increased productivity. “This year’s volume was high simply because the production was high,” he said.

“This marketing season went quick and it was a good season with much higher yields than expected. The prices were stable and predictable.”

“We anticipate an increase in the final figures after the mop-up sales, but as of now we do not have a date for the mop-up sales as these are reached through a consultative process.”

The increase in tobacco production has also been attributed to the Tobacco Input Credit Scheme support from Government agriculture extension services and the experience gained by farmers.

This years’ crop attracted an average price of $2,92, compared to $2,96 last year. Government has since targeted tobacco farming under the Command Agriculture initiative with the harvest expected to grow next season.

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