Zimbabwe sold 186.6 million kg of leaf tobacco valued at $515.9 million during the 2021 marketing season, reports All Africa, citing data from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB). The figures are up 16.8 percent in volume and 31 percent in value over the 2020 sales.
The TIMB noted that contract farming was the dominant supplier of tobacco, accounting for 93.4 percent of total sales compared to 6.6 percent for sales on auction floors. Average leaf prices ranged between $2.47 and $2.82 per kg.
After gold, tobacco is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earner with expected earnings to increase from last year’s $452 million to $800 million. “The tobacco’s potential is immense,” said Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka, who wants to increase tobacco leaf production over the next four years. “It is in this regard that the government, together with stakeholders in the industry, is at an advanced stage of developing a three-pronged strategy. First, to increase annual production to 300 million kg largely from small holder farmers by 2025.”
Industry analysts, however, have criticized Zimbabwe’s plans for not outlining a value addition strategy arguing that improving general output will not yield much benefit. By only exporting raw tobacco leaf, Zimbabwe could be losing out on at least $5 billion annually.