The country’s tobacco marketing season opened on Wednesday, amid expectations of higher output of more than 200 million kilogrammes this year compared to 184 million kilogrammes last year.
Contract sales, where the bulk of the golden leaf is sold, are due to open on Thursday.
The opening bale at the auction floors was sold at US$4.30 per kg, up from $4 in 2020 while the lowest fetched US$0.90.
The golden leaf is Zimbabwe’s biggest agricultural export, having earned the country US$782 million in 2020.
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka told farmers this was the second unique season in which the crop was being sold under Covid-19 restrictions.
“In line with the tobacco value chain transformation strategy, my ministry has refocused the mandate of the TIMB and the Board will transform and restructure to improve the regulatory, compliance, discipline and traceability environment to increase tobacco production to 300 million kilogrammes annually,” he Masuka said.
Government is aiming to transform the tobacco value chain into a US$5 billion industry in the next four years.
With the industry’s foreign currency generating potential yet to be fully exploited, government has said it is in talks with potential investors to set up huge cigarette manufacturing plants in the country.
Only 1.5 percent of the country’s golden leaf output is processed, with the rest exported in raw form.
Those who import the tobacco say the tobacco has the best quality for blending purposes.
Three auction floors were licensed to buy the crop this season.