Harare,– At least 60.26 million kilograms of tobacco worth US$136.92 million have been sold so far at auction and contract floors in the country since the selling season opened, statistics from the industry regulator show.
Tobacco is the country’s second largest foreign currency earner after gold. The golden leaf is arguably one of the success stories of agriculture in the post-land reform era.
In a trading update on day 26 of aution, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said sales had doubled from US$65.96 million recorded in the same period last year.
The average price for auction and contract floors stood at US$2.27 per kg which is 27.81 percent higher than the US$1.78 of the 2019 marketing season.
The highest price stood at US$6.60 per kg while the lowest was at $0.10. Rejected bales declined to 29 089 from 32 253 recorded in the same period last year.
Tobacco production has been on the increase in the past few years, with farmers selling a record 259 million kg last year, up from 253 million kg in 2018.
Last year, it generated US$747 million in exports mainly to China and Europe, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe data.
Traditionally, the opening of tobacco auction floors leads to improved foreign exchange inflows into the country, with buyers scrambling to purchase the crop.
This year, the tobacco selling season is being conducted with minimal human traffic at auction floors to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus ravaging the world.