Oliver Kazunga Acting Business Editor
ZIMBABWE earned more than $730 million from tobacco exports since the beginning of the year.
The country exported about 130 million kilogrammes of tobacco to different parts of the world.Figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that as of December 5, 2014, tobacco export earnings were at $736,2 million from 128, 8 million kg sold at an average price of $5,72 a kg.
During the same period last year, a total of 146,8 million kg were exported at an average price of $5,65 a kg, raking in $830,2 million.
TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri told Business Chronicle last week that this year’s tobacco export volumes were lower than in 2013 due to a recent industrial action at Mashonaland Tobacco Company.
“This year’s tobacco export volumes were lower than last year owing to a recent strike at Mashonaland Tobacco Company. The industrial action resulted in tobacco exports being suspended for quite some time,” he said.
China, which in recent years has led as the major consumer of flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe, has maintained the top spot having so far spent $401,9 million on 48 million kg at an average price of $8,37 kg.
Belgium was the second major consumer of Zimbabwe’s golden leaf buying 26,8 million kg worth $112,6 million at an average price of $4,20 a kg.
South Africa was on third position importing 12 million kg valued at $47,6 million at an average price of $3,96 a kg.
The United Arab Emirates and Indonesia completed the top five consumers of flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe, importing 9,2 million kg and 4,5 million kg respectively.
UAE spent $29,1 million importing Zimbabwe’s golden leaf while Indonesia bought tobacco worth $27,2 million.
A total of 55 countries among them Brazil, United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Cambodia, Russia, Switzerland, Japan, Seychelles, Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi and Poland this year imported tobacco from Zimbabwe.
Turning to tobacco growing registration for the 2014/15 cropping season, Matibiri said TIMB still accepted late registration by the growers.
“We can’t deny the farmers to register to grow tobacco even after the registration deadline. We accept them upon payment of late registration fee of $10 per farmer.”
According to the Tobacco Marketing Act, farmers in the country intending to grow tobacco are required to register before the October 31 deadline each year.
As of December 5, 87,597 growers had registered to grow tobacco in the 2014/15 farming season compared to 84,728 who had registered during the same period last year.
The tobacco sector is one of the major economic mainstays for Zimbabwe.
The crop’s output this year amounted to 216 million kg compared to 165,85 million kg realised in 2013.