Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has earned more than $225 million from 36,3 million kilogrammes of tobacco exported since January. During the same period last year, flue cured tobacco exports realised $58.6 million from 16,4 million kg.
According to latest data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), the crop was exported to 34 countries with China leading as the major consumer of the country’s golden leaf.
The Asian country has so far spent $168,4 million importing 19,6 million kg at an average price of $8,58 per kg followed by South Africa, which imported 4,6 million kgs worth $14,2 million at an average price of $3,10 a kg.
Russia and the United States of America spent $4,6 million and $5,9 million on 1,6 million kgs and 1,5 million kgs at average prices of $2,99 a kg and $3,96 a kg respectively.
Mauritius, which during the same period last year was not importing Zimbabwean tobacco, has this year imported 1,4 million kgs of the golden leaf worth $5,4 million at an average price of $4 a kg.
Other countries that were consuming tobacco from Zimbabwe include Indonesia, Germany, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Vietnam, Tanzania, Paraguay, Zambia and Madagascar.
Over the years, the tobacco sector has significantly supported Zimbabwe’s economy with foreign currency especially since 2009 when the country adopted a multicurrency system resulting in the prevailing liquidity crunch on the market.
Last year, the country earned close to $1 billion from tobacco exports.
TIMB also revealed that 108 million kgs have so far been sold at the auction floors at an average price of $2,92 a kg since the beginning of the marketing season in March.
“Auction floors continue to receive less tobacco compared to contract sales. Year to date auction sales ended with 32,5 million kgs compared to contract sales at 75,7 million kg.
“In a corresponding number of selling days in 2014, auction sales were 33,5 million kgs while contract sales raked in 78,1 million kgs.”
“At total of 96,489 growers have registered for the 2015 farming season with new registrations for the season now at 17,563”, it said.