China pays $125m for Zim tobacco

CHINA has so far imported tobacco worth $125 million from Zimbabwe after the Asian economic giant snapped up 15,6 million of the golden leaf at an auction price of $8,06 per kilogramme (kg).

Latest data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that Zimbabwe (TIMB) has to date exported tobacco valued at $302 million compared to $289 million during the same period last year — with the bulk of the crop going to China.

South Africa also contributed significantly after it purchased $22 million worth of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Hong Kong and Belgium which bought tobacco valued at $18 million, $15 million and $12 million respectively.

The latest development comes at a time Zimbabwe’s farmers have earned over $540 million from the sale of 182 million kg of flue-cured tobacco since the beginning of the marketing season in March this year.

Data from the TIMB revealed that on day 94 the average price for the golden leaf had surged 0,82 percent to $2,99 per kg from $2,94 per kg in the same period last year.

Of the deliveries, total auction sales stood at about 31 million kg valued at $88,5 million, while contract sales accounted for the remaining 151 million kg sold for $452 million.

Rejected bales in the 94 day period stood at 142 729, which was 24,84 percent lower than the 189 896 rejected bales recorded for the same period last year.

The lowest price offered for the leaf remained flat at $0,10 with the weight of the average bale down one percent to 80kg from 81kg.

TIMB spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo said the country remains confident of breaching the 200 million kg mark this year despite fears of heavy rainfall during the current farming season.

“We maintain our targets.  Significant deliveries are still coming through at contract floors and that is the reason why we have not reduced selling days on the contract system,” he said.

At its peak, in 2000, the country produced 237 million kg before hitting an all-time low of around 40 million kg in 2008 due to adverse effects of the land reform programme.

Over the years, tobacco farming has become the preferred cash crop for most Zimbabwean farmers, particularly subsistence.
Agriculture experts say more Zimbabweans seem to be shifting from maize production to tobacco due to its better income generation.

The majority of the farmers are under contract farming and this has seen many foreign companies, enter into farming deals with local growers who cannot afford inputs and others costs.
—John Kachembere



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