Brighton Gumbo Business Reporter
TOBACCO exports increased by more than seven percent to $183 million in January this year after exporting 25 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf, latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) show. During the same period last year, Zimbabwe earned $181 million from 23.3 million kilogrammes exported to different parts of the world.
The bulk of the tobacco was exported to China which accounted for $162 million of the total export earnings.
Belgium was the second after buying 6.6 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf at a cost of $1.3 million, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Russia.
An economic commentator, Luxon Zembe, attributed the increase to two major factors namely increased demand and the quality of the Zimbabwean tobacco.
He said there was generally a higher demand of the product on the international market but supply remained very low.
“Challenges with the global product have prompted the international markets to opt for the best quality Zimbabwean tobacco to blend it with other weaker products,” said Zembe.
“The other reason could be generally an increase on the demand side while the supply is low, so that eventually pushes the prices up as long as the quality of the product is good.”
According to the latest data, the number of tobacco growers for the 2015/16 tobacco season plummeted by 21 percent to 70,462 compared to the 88,640 growers registered during the same period last year.
Communal tobacco farmers dominated the list registering 33,735, while A1 and A2 farmers registered 25, 000.
Small-scale farmers were the least after registering 5,347.
TIMB highlighted that the new growers registration dropped by 45 percent with only 9,039 having registered.
In the same period last year, 16,540 new growers were recorded.
Zimbabwe’s tobacco production, which is one of the largest in Africa, is, however, plagued by several challenges including erratic power supplies to cure the tobacco among others.