Zimbabwe’s 2019 tobacco production hits record high

Rudo Boka

Zimbabwe’s 2019 tobacco output on Thursday surpassed 2018 record-breaking output of 252 million kilograms, according to statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

In spite of the fact that the crop was grown under drought conditions marked by late rains and prolonged dry spells, particularly when the crop was almost ready for harvesting.

The industry regulator said a total of 252.6 million kg of golden leaf had been sold as at August 21, since marketing season opened on March 20, with five days still remaining before the end of selling season.

While the regulator did not show the value of the crop sold to date, the 252.6 million kg sold as at August 21.

They were valued at 507 million U.S. dollars, compared with 249 million kg worth 730 million dollars that was sold during the same period last year.

Generally, the average price of tobacco in 2019 had been lower by about 31 per cent compared to those of 2018. The average price last year was 2.92 U.S. cents per kg compared to 2.02 of 2019.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s main foreign currency earner, with China being the biggest buyer of the crop.

Meanwhile, TIMB announced earlier that the 2019 marketing season would end on Aug. 28, while clean-up sales would be conducted on September 10.

“All stakeholders are advised that the 2019 auction floors will remain open until Aug. 28. Deliveries to selling points will be accepted until August 27,” TIMB said.

TIMB spokesperson, Isheunesu Moyo, said that they were still receiving tobacco from farmers, with farmers bringing an average of 400,000 kg of the golden leaf to the auction floors every day.

The remarkable rise in Zimbabwe’s tobacco production comes after production plummeted from the previous peak of 231 million kg in 2001 to a new low of 48 million kg at the height of country’s economic crisis in 2008.

Meanwhile, over the years, production had steadily gone up driven by increased support mainly from the private sector and China, who have contracted growers to produce the crop.