ZIMBABWE has so far earned US$149 million from 49,4 million kg of tobacco that have gone under the hammer since the auction floor opened in June, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) said yesterday.
If the average prices and selling pattern prevail until the end of August, the country would expect to earn about US$200 million. The amount is about two percent of the US$10 billion that the Ministry of Finance said the country â€œurgently neededâ€ to turn around the economy that has been unstable for the past decade.
Sales are expected to be complete byAugust 28 .
In its latest weekly update, TIMB on Wednesday said 49,4 million kg of flue-cured tobacco worth US$149 million had been sold at the countryâ€™s three auction floors.
The money achieved so far is a 26,09% increase from US$118,1million sold from 36,9 million kg during the same period last year.
Tobacco is the country second largest foreign currency earner after mining.
The Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) auction floors have so far handled the largest volume of tobacco, with 6,7 million kg valued at US$20 million being traded. The average price was US$2,97.
The Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) auction floors have to date handled 4,6 million kg valued at US$13,9 million at an average price of US$2,98 while the Zimbabwe.
Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac) handled 4,1 million kg valued at US$11,5 million at an average price US$2,76.
A total of 33,8 million kg valued at US$103,4 million has gone under the hammer under contract farming at an average price of US$3,05.
Zitac said the countryâ€™s three tobacco auction floors which had been a hive of activity since the start of the marketing season are now recording low volumes as most farmers have already finished selling their tobacco.
Zitac Public Relations officer, Kudzai Hamadziripi said business was winding up at the floors and advised farmers to use their money wisely to prepare for next season.
â€œTobacco sales are low as we approach the end of the marketing season in two weeksâ€™ time. We encourage farmers to work on the seedbeds and maximise land preparations,â€ said Hamadziripi.
Zitac usually caters for large-scale tobacco farmers, while TSF mainly accommodates smallholder farmers. BMZ attracts medium to large-scale tobacco growers.
Auction floors opened in June and the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association estimated that 45 million kg of tobacco would be sold this year, down from 48 million kg sold last year.
TIMB acting chief executive officer, Andrew Matibiri said this yearâ€™s process was running smoothly, unlike the previous years when farmers ended up side-marketing their crops to black market buyers.
Tobacco production has been declining since 2 000 due to late disbursement of funds, rising production costs, excess rains and inexperienced farmers.
Tobacco auction floorsâ€™ outside premises in Harare have been turned into a flee markets as enterprising businesspeople have set up stalls to lure free-spending tobacco farmers who are paid in hard currency.
Tobacco is being sold for between US$2 and US$4 a kg at three auction floors.
Last year farmers spent weeks sleeping in the open before being eventually paid in agro-cheques which were not accepted by shops. However, spot payments this year caused black farmers to go on speeding sprees.
YearÂ Â Â Production (million kgs)Â Â Â YearÂ Â Â Production (million kgs
1980Â Â Â 125 038Â Â Â 1995Â Â Â 198 380
1981Â Â Â 71 812Â Â Â 1996Â Â Â 208 716
1982Â Â Â 90 602Â Â Â 1997Â Â Â 215 369
1983Â Â Â 98 956Â Â Â 1998Â Â Â 215 000
1984Â Â Â 124 872Â Â Â 1999Â Â Â 193 183
1985Â Â Â 107 957Â Â Â 2000Â Â Â 236 130
1986Â Â Â 116 456Â Â Â 2001Â Â Â 202 540
1987Â Â Â 121 320Â Â Â 2002Â Â Â 165 842
1988Â Â Â 114 736Â Â Â 2003Â Â Â 81 812
1989Â Â Â 130 361Â Â Â 2004Â Â Â 69 112
1990Â Â Â 130 394Â Â Â 2005Â Â Â 73 392
1991Â Â Â 178 565Â Â Â 2006Â Â Â 55 533
1992Â Â Â 211 394Â Â Â 2007Â Â Â 73 500
1993Â Â Â 204 790 Â Â Â 2008Â Â Â 48 000
1994Â Â Â 182 466Â Â Â 2009Â Â Â Projection 45 000