Zim tobacco output nears record high

ZIMBABWE tobacco sales have reached 220 million kg, the highest since land reform began and the second highest output of all time.
A total of 221,829,400 kg had been sold on auction and contract by Tuesday, according to Zimbabwe Tobacco Association data, with 32,534,457 kg sold on auction and a further 189,294,943 sold on contract.
This is the second largest crop of tobacco ever sold in Zimbabwe, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board spokesman Isheunesu Moyo said. Zimbabwe produced 167 million kg on 2017.
Zimbabwe reached peak production in 2000, when the country produced 236.9 million kg. Production then collapsed after Government launched land reforms, which saw large scale producers being evicted from farms and farms being parcelled out to black farmers.
Tobacco reached its lowest levels in 2008, when the total mass sold was 48.8 million kg.
However, production has steadily increased due to contract buyers and a sharp increase in farmers, whose skills have improved over time due to TIMB training programmes. Before land reform, only 6500 farmers produced tobacco. For the current season, 127 000 farmers registered with the TIMB.
Tobacco farmers have earned a total $647 million this year, up from $550 million in 2017, although many still face payment delays. At $3 per kg by Tuesday, prices were still lower than the 2017 average of $3.35.
Rodney Ambrose, head of the Zimbabwe Tobaco Association, said the association had forecast 200 million kg for 2018. “We could reach between 220 million and 225 million kg this year.”