Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
TOBACCO export earnings have increased by over 150 percent to $322 million since the beginning of the year, latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show. During the comparable period last year, Zimbabwe earned $211 million from 45.8 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco exported to different parts of the world at an average price of $4,60 per kg.
Since the beginning of the year 58.9 million kgs of the golden leaf have been exported to 50 countries at an average price of $5,60 per kg.
Zimbabwe’s major consumer of the golden leaf, China, has since January spent $176.7 million importing 20.8 million kgs at an average price of $8,48 per kg.
South Africa is on second position importing 7.6 million kgs of tobacco valued at $22.1 million at an average price of $2,92 a kg.
Indonesia, Belgium and Russia were also among the top five major consumers of Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco.
Indonesia was on third position having so far spent $20.5 million on 4.8 million kgs at an average price of $4,19 a kg.
Belgium and Russia have so far spent $18.7 million and $12.1 million importing 4.96 million kgs and 3.89 million kgs respectively.
Sudan, Malawi, Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, Botswana, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Hong Kong, Italy, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Brazil were some of the countries consuming tobacco from Zimbabwe.
An economic commentator Peter Mhaka said taking into cognisance of the earnings Zimbabwe was realising every year from the tobacco sector, there is a need for stakeholders in the agriculture sector to promote value addition of the crop.
“Given the trend on tobacco export earnings, stakeholders in the tobacco sector should seriously consider value addition so that the country benefits more.
“Value addition of the crop is important as it buttresses the objectives of Zim-Asset,” he said.
The tobacco sector has since the adoption of a multi-currency system in 2009 improved liquidity in the economy that has been characterised by liquidity constraints.
Last year, Zimbabwe earned more than $1 billion through tobacco export receipts.