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TOBACCO sales have breached the US$500 million mark with 181,4 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf going under the hammer since the beginning of the marketing season.

Official figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that as of Monday, US$500,3 million had been realised compared to US$383,1 million raised from the sale of 155,8 million kg during the comparable period last year.

The bulk of the crop, amounting to 169,6 million kg has come through the contract arrangement while 11,8 million has been delivered through the auction arrangement raking in US$33,1 million.

This year’s crop average price is US$2,76 a kg compared to US$2,46 during the same period in 2020. The golden leaf is Zimbabwe’s second largest foreign currency earner after gold.

Zimbabwe generates US$1 billion annually from tobacco exports and the sector has in recent years been pivotal in sustaining the economy through improving the much-needed foreign currency reserves.

The country exports 98 percent of its tobacco to over 60 countries around the world with the major ones being China, South Africa, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia.

Meanwhile, authorities have urged tobacco growers to adhere to the stringent Covid-19 regulations in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.

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