Zimbabwe has earned more than $80 million from tobacco exports to date this season, up from a little over $17 million during the same period of the prior year, reports The Herald. The country has exported 15,777 tons so far compared with 573 tons in the comparable period of the previous selling season.
Industry representatives attribute the jump to the timing of shipments. According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), companies with customers in the Far East have moved their tobacco to ports in South Africa earlier than normal to secure space on vessels.
“During the same period last year, due to the Covid[-19] pandemic, efficient shipment of goods was affected as some shipping lines canceled their vessels,” said TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo.
The Far East was the top destination for Zimbabwean tobacco, with local companies exporting 190,153 tons worth $67.5 million to date.
The Middle East imported 2,614 tons worth $6,49 million while the European Union bought 1,543 tons worth $3.71 million. African countries imported 927 tons worth $2.06 million, and the Americas bought 14 tons valued at $1.73 million, according to the TIMB.
More than 140,000 farmers now engage in tobacco production while close to 1 million people are directly dependent on the golden leaf.
Tobacco generates 30 percent of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earnings, bringing in more than $600 million annually.
To learn more about the impact of Covid-19 on global tobacco shipments, see “Taking Freight,” in this month’s issue of Tobacco Reporter.