Staff Writer

Zimbabwe tobacco sales have now surpassed US$200 million, 24 days into the marketing season, statistics from the industry regulator show.

Tobacco is the southern African nation’s second highest foreign currency earner after gold, with China and South Africa being the major buyers.

In a trading update on day 24, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said 79.71 million kilograms of tobacco worth US$211.09 million have been sold so far at auction and contract floors in the country.

The bulk of the crop continued to come from the contract floors where 74.31 million kilograms worth US$196.06 million have been sold compared to 5.39 million kilograms valued at US$14.95 million that have come through the auction system. Total sales of US$211.09 million were up 58.56% on last year.

Average price for auction and contract floors stood at US$2.65 per kg which is 10.76% higher than the US$2.39 of the 2020 marketing season.

The crop has so far fetched a highest price of US$6.70 per kg while the lowest was at $0.10. Rejected bales increased to 34 176 from 25 651 in the same period last year.

The crop was grown in generally very wet weather conditions which prompted nutrient leaching and incidences of some bacterial diseases, particularly angular leaf spot but generally a fair to good quality tobacco leaf.  Average bale weight stood at 74kg compared to 78kg in 2020.

Zimbabwe tobacco production will increase by 8% to 200 245 metric tonnes from 184,042 metric tonnes in the 2019/2020 season, the 2021 Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report shows.

Growth in output is mainly due to a 6.84% increase in hectares under tobacco, which was up from 117 000 hectares in the prior season to 125 000 hectares in the 2020/21 season.

Traditionally, the opening of tobacco marketing season comes with high hopes of overall improvement in foreign currency liquidity in the country.

“Tobacco and gold foreign currency inflows are expected to improve the supply of foreign currency in the country to support the seemingly overstretched foreign currency auction,” stated Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIGZIM) in its latest monthly economic brief-HARARE

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