By Alois Vinga
MORE than 40 countries are after Zimbabwe grown tobacco amid revelations that 160 million kilograms have been sold to date amid expectations of a higher yield this year.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa recently revealed details on the pressing demand for the country’s golden leaf.
“As for tobacco, the nation is being informed that so far this year, over 160 million kilogrammes has been sold at an average price of US$3/kg, exceeding the 114 million kgs sold in 2022 at an average price of US$2.99/kg.
“Decentralised selling points set up by the Second Republic closer to previously disadvantaged farming communities have so far contributed 40% of total tobacco sales.
“More than 40 countries, among them China, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Belgium, Egypt and Indonesia are importing tobacco from Zimbabwe, and the significant foreign currency inflows are facilitating development programmes and uplifting livelihoods,” she said.
She added that during the current marketing season, the government has adopted a grade-based pricing system payable at 85% in United States Dollars and 15% in the local currency.
This year’s tobacco production is expected to rise 8.5% year-on-year to 230 million kg in 2023 following good rains and as more farmers planted the crop.
Tobacco is one of the biggest export earners in Zimbabwe, which aims to increase production to 300 million kg by 2025. Its output peaked at 261 million kg in 2019.
After the collapse of commercial agriculture following the government’s seizure of land from many white farmers in 2000, tobacco has emerged as the most successful sub-sector.
The sector contributes nearly $1 billion to export earnings every year.
Tobacco land use grew to 117,000 hectares this year from 110,000 hectares in 2022 amid an increase in the number of tobacco farmers to 148,527 this year from 123,000 in 2022.