Zimbabwe has so far raked in US$451 million from the sale of 165 million kg of tobacco, a 36,35 percent improvement compared with last year’s US$331 million from 137 million kg, statistics released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show.
An estimated 96 percent of the tobacco delivered came from the contract crop, with just four percent being sold on the auction floors.
Buyers offered a highest price of US$6,70 per kg at the contract floors, while the highest price at the auction floors remained at US$4,99 per kg.
At this stage, 2 239 223 bales have been laid and 2 162 428 sold as compared with 1 767 953 laid during the corresponding period last year, with 1 706 171 bales sold during the same period last year.
To date, 76 795 bales of tobacco have been rejected, with 23 640 rejected at the auction floors, while 53 155 bales were rejected at the contract floors.
This implies that rejection rates were lower at auction floors than contract floors.
Tobacco is normally rejected at the point of sale because of bales being overweight, underweight, bad handling resulting in excessive or inadequate moisture and moulds, dirt or farmers rejecting the price offered.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, Mr Paul Zakariya, said like any other sector, tobacco sales had been affected by Covid-19.
“Covid-19 is really critical, what we need as farmers is to get vaccinated,” he said.
Mr Zakariya said Covid-19 infections are high in some catchment areas of tobacco such as Karoi and urged farmers to always use personal protective equipment and avoid human contact.
“Infections are real and high in some of the tobacco catchment areas like Karoi, farmers must wear face masks and avoid unnecessary human contact,” he said. “Farmers must book their tobacco first and get lined up for sales.”
But this year’s tobacco selling season has been progressed satisfactorily despite the effects of Covid-19, with most farmers generally happy with the payment modalities.
Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually.
The growing of the crop contributes significantly to improving the livelihoods of many people, especially those in rural areas, as it now involves thousands of farmers and employs many people.