Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has generated US$358 million from the exportation of 94,2 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco this year, as the industry presses ahead with the promotion of value addition to maximise returns.
This represents an increase from the 83,4 million kg worth US$361,4 million exported during the same period last year.
Zimbabwe used to be an exporter of tobacco, but a few companies have sprouted and are now processing cigarettes locally and exporting the finished product.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that Zimbabwe has exported tobacco to countries in Africa, America, Europe, European Union, Far East, Middle East and Oceania, with the bulk of the crop sold to the Far East.
The Far East has become a major market for the Zimbabwean tobacco after importing 30 million kg of the golden leaf worth US$157 million at an average price of US$5,28 per kg. So far, African countries have imported 37,1 million kg worth US$115,5 million at an average price of US$3,11 per kg, while America has consumed 1,1 million kgs valued at US$3,4 million at an average price of US$2,94 per kg.
Europe has imported 4,9 million kg of tobacco worth US$19 million at an average price of US$3,94 per kg, EU has imported eight million kg worth US$24 million at an average price of US$$2,99, while the Middle East has imported 13 million kg worth US$37 million at an average price of US$2,90 per kg. Oceania has imported 318 816 kg worth US$1,3 million at an average price of US$4,22 per kg.
TIMB chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri yesterday said some companies were now value adding their crop to maximise on returns.
He said the important thing was to secure a lucrative market and develop a good brand.
“Some companies are now manufacturing cigarettes and exporting. If we can get markets, the people will start processing the crop. What is important is developing the brand. Exporting is about developing a good brand. We are encouraged by Savanna Tobacco that has managed to get a contract to manufacture cigarettes for a Chinese company. We are encouraging value addition,” he said.
Zimbabwe is also producing cigar wrapper tobacco in Burma Valley and exporting it.
Dr Matibiri said plans were underway to start the wrapping of the cigar locally from next year.
Tobacco production has been on the increase in Zimbabwe since the land reform programme.
The country has registered record-breaking deliveries of 259 million kgs of tobacco worth US$526 million this season.
In Zimbabwe, nearly 100 000 farmers engage in tobacco production, while close to one million people are directly dependent on the golden leaf.
Tobacco generates 30 percent of the country’s foreign currency, bringing in over US$600 million annually.