Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
THE country has generated $398 million from 124 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco sold since the opening of the 2014 selling season mid-February, statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show. The figures indicate an eight percent increase from the same period in 2013 when 98 million kilogrammes worth $370 million were sold.
On day 52, the daily average price stood at $3,20 per kg compared to $3,72 last year, showing a variance of 13,84 percent.
The tobacco prices are subdued owing to poor quality of the commodity as well as stiff competition from other producers such as Brazil.
TIMB indicated that one of the three-licensed auctioneers, Tobacco Sales Floor has so far sold 18,3 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf valued at $54 million at an average $2,94 per kg.
Boka Tobacco Floors has sold 8,9 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf valued $24 million at an average price $2,70 per kg.
At Premier Tobacco Floors the average daily price has averaged $2,74 as the floors sold 9,5 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth $26 million.
TIMB said contract sales were 88 million kilogrammes valued $294 million with an average price of $3,78 per kg.
Players in the tobacco sector project to raise $700 million driven by the surging number of tobacco farmers from the sale of an estimated 170 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf.
To date, about 104,737 growers have registered for the 2013/14 season compared to about 89,680 who had registered by the same period last year.
Small-scale farmers continue to dominate as they constitute more than 80 percent of the registered growers.
There are 37,138 A1 registered growers, 47,585 communal 8,505 small-scale and 11,509 A2 farmers.
Tobacco has become one of the lucrative crops in Zimbabwe with farmers in the country recently abandoning growing crops such as cotton and maize.
The tobacco sector has also played a crucial role in the economy through export receipts.
As of May 2, 2014, 19,5 million kg of the golden leaf have been exported to 41 countries raking in $72 million at an average price of $3,69 a kg.