Tobacco export receipts up 39%

July 1, 2022


Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports are up 39% to US$359.9m from the same period last year, driven by firming prices, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.

The golden leaf is Zimbabwe’s fourth largest foreign currency earner.

“To date, a total of 75.2m kg valued at US$360m has been exported as compared to 65.5m kg valued at US$258.8 million exported during the same period last year,” TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo.

Speaking at a post Cabinet briefing this week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the prices are expected to firm further due to the increase in demand.

The exporters average price rose to US$4.78 per  kg from US$3.95 a kg during the previous season.

Tobacco export receipts are expected to peak after the end of the season where the merchants will be concentrating in shipping out mainly last year’s tobacco.

A total of 152m kg valued at US$456.47m has been sold to date with the average price at the auction at US$3.19/kg, compared to US$2.81/kg in 2021.

Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers have so far earned US$31.95m from a total of US$456.47m earned after contractors and merchants deducted what was owed them.

“Though demand is high, sadly growers’ viability remains unaddressed. Growth is not forecasted and returns will continue to diminish. We can see that from the total amount of US$416.74m, tobacco merchants grossed US$424.51m with tobacco growers earning a paltry US$31.95m which is just 7% of the total earnings,” Zimbabwe Tobacco Association CEO, Rodney Ambrose said.

The dire situation has threatened farmers’ viability, a situation that has left most tobacco farmers living on the margins.

Farmers claim that the debt levels are now unsustainable with some having ballooned to critical levels.

The debts some farmers have been building up in the past few years.

The number of registered tobacco farmers fell 17% to 119 979 this year from 140 771 last year while the new farmers registrations plunged 224% to 529 from 1717.

This shows that the appetite for growing tobacco in Zimbabwe has diminished.

TIMB expects Zimbabwe production to drop to 180m kg from above 200m kg last year.

The target volume for the 2022/23 season is 275 kg from 135 000 hectares, with 96% of the production being under contract.


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