Harare (New Ziana)-Tobacco farmers sold 212.7 million kilograms of tobacco worth US$650.3 million during the past tobacco selling season which ended last Friday, statistics from the industry regulator show.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), a total of 212 711 370 kg of tobacco had been sold at a value of US$650 308 534 as of 21 October 2022.
“This is an increase when comparing to the 211 100 219 kg sold during the same period in 2021 at a value of US$589 573 827.”
The tobacco which was sold this year was grown under very challenging weather conditions, characterised by a late and false start of the rains, followed by incessant and excessive precipitation in January causing water logging, nutrient leaching, and disrupting weeding and other agronomic operations.
The increase in tobacco sales is evidence that the tobacco industry is making strides in establishing a US$5 billion industry by 2025.
Also commonly referred to as “the golden leaf”, tobacco is the country’s biggest agricultural export, and second largest single commodity export after gold, raking in around US$800 million last year.
Output of the crop has grown from 48 million kg in 2008 to over 200 million kg, with the bulk of it being produced by small scale resettled farmers.
At least 122 000 growers registered to grow and sell tobacco this season, at least 95 percent of them under the contract system.
Currently, only 18 percent of Zimbabwe’s tobacco crop is grown under irrigation, and the intention is to expand this to at least 40 percent in order to avoid relying on the rains and ramp up production.