A TOTAL of 98,3 million kg of tobacco valued at US$283,7 million has so far been delivered at both contract and auction floors since the commencement of the marketing season in March.
By Fidelity Mhlanga
Statistics from Tobacco Marketing Industry Board (TIMB) as at day 41 show that the value of tobacco deliveries grow by 27% from last year’s US$223,7 million sold in the same period.
According to TIMB, contract floors received tobacco valued at US$283,7 million from the delivered 78,9 million kg .
Auction floors received 19,2 million kg of tobacco valued at US$48,2 million.
The total average price has slightly increased to US$2,89 from US$2,88 recorded during the same period last year.
The highest tobacco price pegged at US$6,25 was obtained from the contract floors whereas the lowest price was at US$0,10 cents.
The number of rejected bales this season decreased to 71,745 from 97,920 recorded during the same period last year.
The decline in rejected bales is owing to a decline in cartels of unscrupulous buyers operating at auction floors causing rejection of tobacco for resale or an improvement in tobacco quality.
A total of 42,5kg of tobacco valued at US$246,3 million has so far been exported since the commencement of this year’s tobacco season.
China dominated the exports after absorbing 20,2 million kg of the golden leaf at US$163,8 million followed by South Africa which has so far bought 8,1 million kg worth US$24,8 million.
Official figures from TIMB, show the number of tobacco growers plunged by 22% from 92 430 last season to 71 728 after farmers failed to raise money for inputs ostensibly due to poor prices.
Although tobacco farming is now driven by small scale farmers, it has been steadily growing since the introduction of the multi- currency regime in 2009. Production levels have not reached year 2000 record high of 236,13 million kg.
The number of small scale tobacco farmers has grown to 65,365 from 4 000 in 2004 and now tobacco production generates considerable rural employment as the majority of rural people turned to tobacco farming.
Economists say the growth of tobacco production since dollarisation was a reflection of high unemployment bedevilling the economy, pushing the majority into tobacco farming.
Zimbabwe is the largest producer of tobacco leaf in Africa and the world’s fourth-largest producer of flue-cured tobacco, after China, Brazil and the United States of America.