HARARE – The country’s tobacco exports have raked in over $214 million as at May 3, 2019, marking a 55 percent jump in the country`s tobacco export earnings from the comparable period.
Latest figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that there was a 85 percent increase in tobacco exports to 52 million kg from last year’s 28 million kg although there was a decline in the average price of the golden leaf to $4,05 from last year’s $4, 88 a kg.
The boom in export earning comes despite a myriad of challenges being experienced at the opening of the marketing season some of them including farmers withholding their crop in protest of prices being offered for the golden leaf.
Tobacco merchants and floor operators also raised complains about the two percent tax arguing it will seriously hurt their margins, a tax that Government later scrapped on all activities taking place at the auction floors.
Tobacco has so far been exported to 38 countries.
According to the statistics Zimbabwe’s major trade partners are Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Mozambique, and Belgium. South Africa stands as the largest importer of Zimbabwean tobacco and China slipping to the second largest exporter.
As at May 3, 2019 South Africa had imported 20, 9 million kg of tobacco worth $76 million a increase from last year’s 6,9 million kg. China which is the country largest exporter outside the SADC region as so far purchased 8 million kgs of the golden leaf valued at $67 million.
With an estimated 350 million smokers, China has been spending over $200 million per annum on Zimbabwean tobacco, regarded among the best in the world.
Other notable exports went to The United Arab Emirates bought 7,4 million kg valued at $23 million, Belgium, which imported 3 million kg valued at $8 million while exports to Mozambique were 4 million kg valued at $9 million.
The golden leaf is one of the country’s major foreign currency earners and the Government has recognised the sector’s contribution to the economy as evidenced by the incentives the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has availed to boost the crop’s output.