Tobacco sales soar

Zimbabwe has recorded its best tobacco sales figures since the accelerated land reform programme began a decade ago.

New figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show Zimbabwe sold 140.8 million kilograms of tobacco at an average price of $3.67, resulting in sales totalling $517m.

The figure is well above last year’s total of $349m, and average price per kilo of $2.71. Three more tobacco auction floors have also opened over the last year, bringing the total to four floors.

Zimbabwe, once the world’s biggest tobacco exporter with 30% of global exports, saw sales fall from a peak of 236 million kilos in 2000 to a low of 55.6 million kilos in 2006 as the economic effects of farm disruptions took hold.

The disruptions were part of President Mugabe’s “fast-track” land reform program, during which white owned commercial farms were seized, ostensibly for distribution to blacks, but which caused world-record hyper inflation as the economy collapsed.

The inflation made it impossible for farmers to purchase inputs such as fertilizer and seeds, and tobacco production went into freefall.

The introduction of the US dollar as official currency following 2008 elections stabilized the economy and tobacco production has been rising since 2009, although mining is now the country’s principal foreign currency earner.

Post published in: Agriculture

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