By Elita Chikwati
The 2018 flue-cured tobacco deliveries have reached a record 238 million kilogrammes, the highest ever in the history of the country. The previous record was 237 million kg, which was achieved in 2000. According to latest Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics, farmers have this season delivered 238 million kg worth $696 million.
This is an increase of 34 percent from 177 million kg that was sold during the corresponding period last year.
Stakeholders in the industry are speculating that the volume may get to 240 million kg this year.
By last Friday, contracted growers had sold 203 million kg worth $599 million, while self-financed farmers sold 35 million kg worth $97 million.
TIMB corporate communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo said: “During the peak period, deliveries averaged around seven million kg per day, but now we are getting an about one million kilogrammes of tobacco per day.
“The marketing season is closing on Friday July 27, 2018 and the last day of the deliveries is Thursday July 26.
“The date for the mop up sales will be announced in due course.”
The 2018 marketing season has been described by many farmers as successful as they did not have challenges with prices.
Most farmers said the prices were fair, although others still maintain that there should not be a price cap of $4,99 per kilogramme at the auction floors.
For the past years, the highest price of tobacco at the auction floors has remained at $4,99 per kilogramme, while contract floors have registered higher prices.
This year, the highest price at the contract floors was $6,25 per kilogramme.
The season started on a slow note as there were complains of Potato Virus Y, while other farmers complained that their crop had been affected by the delays in the onset of the rainy season.
The increase in tobacco production has been attributed to high prices and an organised market, availability of funding through contractors and Government.
The payment of some of the farmers’ incentives in foreign currency also spurred deliveries.
Tobacco has earned a strategic position in the economy because of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and foreign currency earnings.
In Zimbabwe over three million people depend on the industry for their livelihoods.
The land reform programme embarked on by Government in year 2000 has seen more indigenous farmers growing tobacco in a move that has economically empowered them.