Zimbabwe’s tobacco marketing season opens

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HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has today officially opened the 2023 Tobacco Marketing Season with an announcement that farmers will this year retain 85 percent of sales in foreign currency, up from 75 percent last season.

The official opening saw the first bale going under the hammer for US$4, 35 per kilogram up from US$4, 20 registered at last year’s official opening.

Production is this year expected to increase by 8, 5 percent year-on-year and the foreign currency retention hike is part of the Government’s efforts to ramp up production to a national target of 300 million kilograms by 2025 which is a key anchor of the broader national strategy of an upper middle-income economy as set by President Mnangagwa.

The golden leaf is the country’s single second-largest foreign currency-earning export product after gold and the Government is keen to see its continued production growth.

In his official opening speech, Vice President Chiwenga said Government’s eyes are transfixed on the role of tobacco to uplift people’s livelihoods and that agriculture in general is a key pillar of Zimbabwe’s national development strategy.

“Government has noted the concerns that have been raised about growers facing viability challenges as a result of the increased cost of production,” said VP Chiwenga.

“To alleviate that, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has consequently increased the foreign currency retention threshold from 75 percent to 85 percent.

Zimbabwe produced 211 million kgs of tobacco in 2021, 212 million kgs in 2022 and this season’s crop comes on the back of farmed hectarage having increased significantly thus the projected yield increase.

Chairman of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), Mr Patrick Devenish, promised a timeous settling of farmers’ dues and asked them to immediately alert the board should they fail to get their money within 48 hours of sale. – Herald