The selling season officially ended on September 3 with an output of 119 million kgs.
“The extra 4,4 million kg were sold through mop up sales which were carried out at various selling points up to October 21,” said TIMB.
According to the figures released on Tuesday, a record crop of 123,4 million kgs was sold at the just ended tobacco selling season after the mop up sales. This year’s production is 110% more than last year’s production of 56 million kgs.
“The increase in tobacco output was attributed to an increase in small scale growers that constituted 80% of the total registered growers,” TIMB said.
“Mashonaland West province had the highest production in the 2010 marketing season followed by Mashonaland Central. However, about 11 000 small scale (A1 + Communal) growers in Mashonaland Central produced more than 16 million kgs, were as close to 12 000 small scale growers in Mashonaland West produced slightly above 15 million kgs. This means that small scale growers in Mashonaland Central had a better yield.”
TIMB said the number of tobacco growers had increased over the last decade from of 8 500 (average 10 hectares each) to over 51 000 growers (average 1,3 hectares each), of whom about 42 000 (80%) were small-scale (A1 and communal area) growers.
Virginia tobacco was grown on a total of 67 054 hectares, yielding an average of I 839 kgs per hectare.
“A better yield has been attained this year as a result of good rains which prevailed in 2010 and aided by timeous availability of inputs,” TIMB said.
During the just ended selling season, merchants offered favourable prices at the beginning of the season and later reduced their prices after eight weeks of sales.
When deliveries continued to swell beyond the initial projections of 77 million kgs, prices further dropped from the highest average price of US$3,49/kg to US$2,62/kg recorded at auction floors.
The season ended at an average price of US$2,88/kg, 10 cents below the 2009 average price.
“The highest price which was paid for good grades during the 2010 season was US$4,96/kg. The lowest price was 0,10 cents per kg which does not change every year for tobacco fines,” said TIMB.
The record annual average price of US$3,21/kg achieved in 2008 still stands.
Depressed prices realised towards the end of the 2010 season was attributed to market forces of demand and supply. The lowest average price was offered in 2005, US$1,61/kg.
“The average price for the 2011 season may also drop slightly as a result of increased production world over, due to a predicted surplus output and an 8% decrease in demand of cigarettes in western Europe,” said TIMB.
Last week, the Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe and FBC Bank Ltd floated Tobacco Bills worth US$10 million to support tobacco farmers for the 2010/11 season.
Agribank says the money raised will be channeled towards mobilising financial support for tobacco farmers for the growing, curing and transportation of the crop to auction floors next year.