The Sunday Mail
Livingstone Marufu Sunday Mail Reporter —
Zimbabwe has earned US$1,3 billion from tobacco sales since the beginning of 2016, with exports topping US$736 million and farmers pocketing the remainder off domestic auctions.
Export receipts show a US$100 million increase from last season. The latest Tobacco Industry Marketing Board bulletin shows that China bought 50,4 million kgs worth US$410,4 million, and South Africa 19,8 million kgs at US$58 million.
With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been spending over US$200 million annually on Zimbabwe’s tobacco. Part of the Timb bulletin reads, “As of November 10, 2016, (a total) 133 million kgs were exported to more than 63 countries, generating US$736 million for the local economy.
“The golden leaf is presently being exported to these countries at an average price of US$5, 50 a kg, compared to US$5, 58 (during) the same period last year.”
Belgium has bought 15,4 million kgs worth US$74,5 million at an average price of US$4,83 per kg, while Indonesia has spent US$23 million on 5,1 million kgs and Dubai 6,8 million kgs worth US$15,7 million.
Sudan, which is Africa’s second biggest buyer of Zimbabwe tobacco after South Africa, has so far spent US$15 million on 4,3 million kgs. Russia bought US$14,1 million worth of the crop.
Other buyers include the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Tanzania. Zimbabwe produced 201 million kgs of tobacco in the 2015/16 season, surpassing Timb’s revised production target of 190 million kgs.
Buoyed by last season’s success, tobacco grower registration has this year increased to 72 575 from last season’s 69 092. The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union told The Sunday Mail, “We are likely going to have an increased hectarage this year due to the remarkable success we scored under dry weather conditions.
“With better rains this year, the golden leaf will likely improve from last year’s output. This is spurred by the increase in the number of registered growers for the 2016/17 summer cropping season.”
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president Mr Rodney Ambrose added, “Given the earnings at hand, it’s very encouraging to most of our farmers and the statistics reaffirm the importance of tobacco to foreign currency-generation for the country coming on top of many important sectors.”
TIMB public relations manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo chipped in, “We are surprised with the statistics given the climatic conditions that we have experienced this season. We didn’t expect to surpass all these huge figures in light of the El Nino phenomenon.
“Given the number of farmers who committed themselves to the crop and the area that was planted this year, we did a splendid job as no one, including us, expected the output to reach such astonishing figures. We expect an even better season this time around.”