HARARE-- Zimbabwean farmers have so far sold 200.3 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth $83.3 million US dollars, surpassing the target set by the government for the current season of 200 million kg with another third of the sales season to come.
Statistics that the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) released on day 60 of sales show that only 157.2 million kg of tobacco worth 457.4 million had been sold during the comparable period last year. Traditionally, the tobacco selling season lasts 90 days.
This year, the golden leaf is being sold at an average price of 2.91 USD per kg.
TIMB spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo on Wednesday attributed the high volume of tobacco sold partly to the increase in the number of farmers who planted the crop after being motivated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's export incentive.
For instance we had 82,000 farmers last season and this season we have 146,000 growers. This is because tobacco farming is lucrative and more and more people are getting into tobacco farming. The export incentive introduced last season could also have been a contributory factor, he said.
Agronomic practices are also improving and this enhances quality and productivity of tobacco.
Zimbabwe was expecting 200 million kg of tobacco to be produced this season, 30 million kg short of the 1998 peak of 230 million kg, which could be reached in the 30 days remaining until sales close.
In the last season, the country earned more than 600 million USD from sales of more than 190 million kg of the golden leaf produced.
This year's tobacco was grown under two extremes of weather characterised by delayed rains in the first half of the season and excessive precipitation in the second half.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK