Biti told journalists in the capital this week that prices of flue-cured tobacco were generally higher compared to last year when the tobacco auction floors opened, a development he attributed to the higher demand for Zimbabwean tobacco, following the reduction in global output by 200 million kgs this year.
By year end of February 2012, US$28, 9 million had been realised from the sale of 8,1 million kgs of the crop at an average price of US$3,6 per kg.
The 2012 buying season has seen the licensing of 18 buyers, with 10 already participating on the auction floors, while the remaining eight are still to comply with the exchange regulations relating to the buying of the crop.
Four auction floors — Boka, TSF, Millennium Tobacco and ZLT — opened this selling season.
Biti said tobacco in February contributed 14,5% to exports, which totalled US$584 million between January 1 and March 2 this year while mining contributed 70,5% .
Gold output, however, fell 11,8% to 927 kgs from the 1053kg registered in January.
Biti was presenting his monthly state of the economy report.
Turning to revenue collection, Biti said February had underperformed, with total revenue of US$59,2 million, a development he said would continue to undermine the implementation of targeted projects.
Total revenue collection in February totalled US$227,7 million against a target of US$270 million, a revenue variance of US$42,2 million.
Revenue collection for January and February amounted to US$488,24 million against a target of US$549,5 million, a cumulative variance said of US$61,24 million, largely emanating from the underperformance of diamonds, which only brought in US$58 million last month, he said.
Actual expenditure for the month was US$286,9 million against an approved expenditure framework of US$269,2 million.
The monthly employment costs bill for February increased to US$187,4 million, from US$155 million in January.
Biti sees March revenue collections at US$320,22 million. Collections from Zimra are expected to bring in US$264,39 million while diamonds will chip in with US$41,5 million and non-tax revenue the remaining US$14,33 million.