Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
THE country has earned over $270 million from 49.4 million kilogrammes of tobacco exported since the beginning of the year compared to 38.8 million kg during the same period last year.
During the comparable period, $141.2 million was earned on flue-cured tobacco exports.
Data released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that as of last Friday, China was leading as the major consumer of Zimbabwe’s golden leaf.
The Asian country has spent $170.8 million on 20 million kg of tobacco averaging $8,53 a kg.
South Africa, which was on second position has imported 6.7 million kg of tobacco valued at $19.9 million averaging $2,97 a kg while Indonesia, on third position has spent $13.4 million importing 3.2 million kg at an average price of $4,25 a kg.
TIMB indicated that the United Arab Emirates had spent $7.8 million on 2.5 million kg.
The average price was $3,05 a kg.
Russia was on fifth position having so far imported 2.5 million kg of tobacco from Zimbabwe spending $9.5 million at an average price of $3,65 a kg.
Forty countries are importing tobacco from Zimbabwe compared to 44 during the same period in 2014.
Countries importing tobacco from Zimbabwe include Belgium, the United States of America, Jordan, Mauritius, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Paraguay, Botswana, Malawi, Egypt, Kenya, Malaysia and Zambia.
On seasonal sales locally, TIMB said: “The current seasonal auction sales at 44.4 million kg is 8.10 percent below 2014 auction output. Both contract sales output and price for 2015 have also been depressed by 14.3 percent and 6.3 percent respectively compared to previous season.
“During the same period last year auction and contract sales had contributed about 172.3 million kg averaging $3,18 a kg. Current auction floors throughput has significantly dropped and now signaling the end of the 2015 selling season.”
The tobacco sector is one of the economic mainstays of Zimbabwe playing a pivotal role in improving liquidity situation in the country since the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009.
Last year, the country earned close to $1 billion from tobacco exports.
Meanwhile, 97,452 farmers have registered to grow tobacco in the next summer cropping season reflecting a nine percent decrease from 106,326 farmers who had registered during the same period in 2014.