HomePoliticsZim out of world's top five tobacco exporters

Zim out of world’s top five tobacco exporters

Godfrey Marawanyika

ZIMBABWE has been dropped from the United States’ list of the world’s best five exporters of tobacco following its disruptive land reform programme.

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Latest figures from the US Department of Agriculture indicate that the top five exporters of tobacco are now listed as Brazil, India, China, Indonesia and the United States.

The latest development comes against a backdrop of the government’s mishandling of the land reform programme, which has resulted in tobacco losing its place as one of the key foreign currency earners in the country.

This year the country is expected to reap about 60 million kg, down from 80 million kg recorded last year.

In the past the bulk of the country’s foreign currency earnings used to come from tobacco, but because of land seizures most affected farmers have left the country or simply been forced off their properties.

Some of the country’s farmers have relocated to Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.

The decline in the expected output has now led to Zimbabwe being overtaken by Malawi as the biggest producer of the golden leaf in Africa.

Malawi expects its 2003/4 crop to be 145,6 million kg, and its exports have since increased to 122 580 tonnes last year, up from 101 250 tonnes in 2000, figures from the US Agriculture department indicate.

This week Agriculture ministry secretary Ngoni Masoka said although this year’s crop was lower than that produced last year, there were prospects that the country would regain its former position as one of the leading producers of tobacco.

Masoka could not however reveal how the country would regain its former position.

This year’s tobacco marketing season is expected to start on March 16, while the auction system will open on March 30.

When the auction floors open 75% of tobacco would be paid at the ruling auction rate while the remainder of 25% will be at the official exchange rate of US$1:$824.

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