Zimbabwe has earned $211.9 million from tobacco sales thus far this year. China continues to be the leading importer after buying 19.3 million kg worth $166.7 million since the beginning of the marketing season. Zimbabwe exports Virginia tobacco to more than 50 countries on all but two continents.
South Africa ranks as the second-biggest importer of the golden leaf, after buying 3.5 million for $13.5 million at $3.77, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board. Mauritius, which bought 1.3 million kg worth $5.4 million at $4 per kg, ranks as the third-highest importer. Other top importers include Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Zimbabwe produced 216.2 million kg of Virginia tobacco in 2014.
Zimbabwe sold nearly 190 million kg during the 2013–2014 season, surpassing the target of 180 million kg, reports New Zimbabwe, quoting the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).
Auction and contract sales fetched a combined $604.7 million.
Although auction marketing is set to end soon, contract sales would continue until further notice, TIMB added.
In 2013, 166 million kg of tobacco worth $616 million was sold.
TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said he hoped the remaining crop to be sold under the contract system would push production figures for 2014 to 200 million kg.
If met, the target would be slightly lower than the country’s peak production of 231 million kg in 2001.
China has been the largest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco over the past years.
Zimbabwe had sold 107 million kg of flue-cured tobacco for a total of $400 million by the end of the 55th day of sales, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.
By the same stage of last season’s sales, 84 million kg of flue-cured had been sold for $315 million.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board was said to be confident that this season’s 170 million kg target would be surpassed.
And the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union vice president, Johnson Mapira, was quoted as saying that tobacco production was expected to continue to increase because of favourable farm prices. Tobacco was the only crop where farmers were guaranteed good prices and instant cash.
Mapira said the good payment method used in respect of tobacco sales meant that tobacco farmers did not have problems paying their workers. And he said that farmers were now using some of the proceeds from tobacco to support other projects.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has recorded close to $300 million from the sales of the golden leaf as more farmers deliver their crop to the country’s three auction floors, according to a story by Zimbabwe’s NewsDay.
TIMB shows that as of Wednesday (Day 44), revenue had reached $289 million from 77,787 million kg of tobacco sold. The sales comprised 46,619 million kg contract and 31,168 million kg auction sales.
On Friday, April 19, Tobacco Sales Floor handled 11.8m kg, followed by Boka Tobacco Auction Floors at 11.3m kg and Premier Tobacco Floor with 7.9 million kg.
On the day’s trade TSF bought tobacco at an average price of $3. 70 per kg, BTF at $3. 61 per kg and PTF at $3. 56 per kg.
At least 1,099,020 bales were accepted, while 48,954 bales had been rejected for various reasons. According to the TIMB weekly tobacco report, the current 2013 seasonal sales were 16 percent firmer than the prior year at the same time.
TIMB said to date, about 51,083 growers have delivered tobacco against 86,941 growers who have registered for 2013 season. During the same period last year about 64,293 had registered.
TIMB projects 170 million kg of the golden leaf to be brought to the auction floors this season.
One of the local leaf companies kindly let me borrow a car for the week, which should facilitate logistics considerably.
I spent the day with my friend Makiwa, getting my bearings in Harare. I have a basic knowledge of the city from previous visits, but things are different when you are driving yourself.
For starters, I am unaccustomed to driving on the left-hand side of the road. It took me a while to stop activating my windshield wipers when I intended to use my turn signal. And I constantly have to remind myself to look in the right (or should it be left?) direction for oncoming traffic.
More troubling for the out-of-town motorist is the general lack of pavement markers, street name signs and functioning traffic lights.
Makiwa blamed the absence of street signs on “unscrupulous people”—i.e. vandals. But during a previous visit, I heard a more macabre explanation. AIDS has wreaked havoc among Zimbabweans (one in four is said to be infected), and coffin manufacturers are one of the few professional groups doing brisk business. The easily bendable street signs apparently make good coffin handles.
Many traffic lights—which Makiwa consistently referred to as “robots”—are so faint that it’s difficult to tell whether they are red, yellow or green. Others don’t work at all, leaving drivers to work out the right of way among themselves.
In practice this means the biggest vehicles and most assertive drivers go first. I am afraid my Toyota Vista is not much of a match for some of the tinted-windowed 4X4s on the road. And it certainly wasn’t a match for the presidential motorcade that crossed our way.
It started with a police siren. I slowed, but Makiwa insisted I pull off the road and stop now. After the procession had passed, I asked what the fine would have been for failing to yield.
“Zero,” said Makiwa. “They’d shoot you.”