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Zimbabwe Expected to Produce 265 Million Kilogrammes of Tobacco

Strong start to tobacco selling season

The Zimbabwe Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said that Zimbabwe is anticipated to produce around 265 million kilogrammes of tobacco despite poor weather at the early start of the 2023–24 agricultural season.

On March 13, the tobacco marketing season for 2024 begins. Based on extended dry circumstances caused by El Niño, a second pre-season crop assessment projects a yield of 265 million kilogrammes, which some experts deem “respectable.”

Zimbabwe produced a record harvest of around 297 million kg last year, mostly as a result of favourable weather and better agronomy help from the contractors.

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“El Niño presented challenges during the early season,” said Mr. Emmanuel Matsvarire, interim chief executive of TIMB.

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Some seedbeds were ruined by the dry weather, and farmers planted differently. We anticipate a 265 million kg production from around 137 000 planted hectares in spite of these obstacles.

Mr. Carlos Tadya, an economic specialist, said that the 265 million kg would be a remarkable accomplishment in light of the difficulties caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

According to him, the anticipated crop demonstrates the industry’s potential as well as the tenacity of Zimbabwe’s farmers. Even if this year’s crop is projected to be smaller than last year’s record, Mr. Tadya noted that farmers and the nation should still reap major economic advantages from it.

“Considering the influence of El Niño, I believe the projected yield is within a reasonable range,” he said.

After gold, tobacco is still the nation’s second-biggest source of foreign exchange earnings. Small-scale farmers who received land allocations during the land reform initiative mostly grow tobacco.

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Tobacco cultivation, which was formerly thought to be technically difficult for small-scale producers, has also gained popularity among community farmers, thus increasing their participation in the industry.

With 236 million kg of tobacco exports last year, Zimbabwe brought approximately US$1.2 billion.

According to the most recent TIMB report, Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports are off to an amazing start this year. As of February 2, 2024, 40 million kilogrammes had been delivered, producing roughly US$284,1 million at an average price of US$7,09 per kilogramme.

Comparing this to the same time last year, when exports totaled 17,5 million kg, valued at US$90,7 million, at an average price of US$5,17 per kg, shows a considerable rise.

The markets in the Middle East, Africa, the Far East, and the European Union are the main recipients of the exports. China was a major importer of tobacco from Zimbabwe, purchasing 25,4 million kg of tobacco valued at US$229,3 million up to February 2.

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As per the Cabinet’s approval of the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan in 2021, the government aims to boost the production to 300 million kg by 2025.

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The strategy also aims to expand value addition to a level of 70%, localise tobacco finance to 70%, and grow cigarette manufacture from 2% to 30%.

The number of tobacco growers increased significantly as well, from 123 000 in 2022 to 148 527 in the most recent season.

Improved assistance for small-scale farmers, rising tobacco prices, and favourable weather patterns are some of the reasons for this growth.

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