Tobacco seasonal export earnings have reached US$253 million after the sale of 45,1 million kg of tobacco since the commencing of the season in March this year.
Figures from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) show that seasonal exports improved from 42,3kg valued at US$246,5 million sold last year as at day 46.
China remains the biggest tobacco export destination for Zimbabwe after absorbing 20,2 million kg of tobacco valued at US$164 million.
South Africa is the second highest importer after purchasing nine million kg of tobacco worth US$26,2 million, with Indonesia coming second after buying 2,2 million valued at US$11,7 million .
Zimbabwe’s tobacco is being exported to 40 countries, up from 37 during the same period last year. According to TIMB, 113, 5 million kg of tobacco valued at US$330 million has so far been delivered to both auction and contract floors. During the same period, last year 96,3 million kg of tobacco were sold racking in US$281,2 million .
A total 21,2 million kg worth US$55,6 million of tobacco has been delivered so far at auction while contract floors dominated after receiving 91,6 million kg worth US$274,3 million. The average price of US$2,91 is 0,42% higher than US$2,92 which was obtaining during the same period last year.
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.
Poor quality has been to lack of expertise by upcoming small scale tobacco farmers who mostly embrace the golden leaf cultivation after dollarisation.
Rejected bales decreased to 91363 from 116 527 recorded last year. Tobacco farming is mainly driven by small scale tobacco farmers which now stands at 65,365 from 4 000 in 2004.
Tobacco production generates considerable rural employment as the majority of rural people after maize cultivation suffered huge setbacks prompted by unreliable payment.
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.