Tobacco sales for this season increased by 31 % compared to figures recorded last year, Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has reported.
Recent updates from TIMB shows that a total 186, 6 million kilograms had been sold as of day 66 compared to 159, 7 kilograms sold in a comparative period last year.
The sold tobacco to date is worth US$515, 9 million up from US$393,9 million which had been sold in a comparative last year.
“The total worth of the sold tobacco for the comparative period has increased by 30.9 % in terms of value and 16.83 % in terms of quantity,” TIMB said.
The statistics show that contract farming remains the dominant supplier of tobacco , accounting for 481,8 million kilograms of the golden leaf compared to just 34 million kilograms injected by the auction floor farmers.
Average prices are hovering between US$2, 47 and US$2, 82 per kilogram.
The number of bales sold to date are 2, 4 million up from last year’s 1,9 million representing a 23 % change from last year’s figures.
After gold, tobacco is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earner amid expectations by the government this year expecting earnings to jump from last year’s US$452 million to US$800 million.
Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka has put in place plans to increase production output in the next four years.
“The tobacco’s potential is immense. It is in this regard that the government, together with stakeholders in the industry, is at an advanced stage of developing a three-pronged strategy. First, to increase annual production to 300 million kilograms largely from small holder farmers by 2025,” he said.
However, market watchers have since criticised Zimbabwe for not outlining a value addition strategy arguing that improving general output will not yield much benefit.
Records show Zimbabwe could be losing out on at least US$ 5 billion annually on account of exporting raw tobacco, missing out on the lucrative global cigarette manufacturing market, experts have said.