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Zimbabwe tobacco auction rakes in US$1.78 million as deliveries continue to improve

Almot Maqolo

HARARE – Cumulative tobacco deliveries at the Zimbabwe’s three auction floors hit one million kilograms Wednesday – day 10 of the sales period, raking in $1.78 million as deliveries continued their slow surge, official data showed.

It was still a far cry from last year’s figures though, which stood at 2.3 million kgs of the golden leaf worth $5.56 million gone under the hammer.

Latest data, from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) shows the least of the deliveries came from contracted growers, who contributed 585,489 kgs valued at $1.1 million at a contract average price of $1.81 per kg.

Bulk deliveries were recorded at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), where 676,490 kgs worth $1.15 million had been sold Wednesday, followed by Premier Tobacco Auction Floors (PTF), with 223,604 kgs valued at $374,122 and Boka Tobacco Auction Floors (BTF) with 154,276 kgs worth $249,476.

The crop has to date fetched a highest price of US$4.85 per kg, while the lowest has been 0.20 cents per kg.

The number of rejected bales at the floors is lower this year at 3,632 compared to last year’s 4,170. This year tobacco was grown under two extremes of weather characterised by delayed rains and prolonged drought.

The golden leaf, which grown by over 170,000 people consisting mainly small scale farmers, recorded an “all-time record” after delivering 252 million kgs last year. However, this year’s output is expected to dwindle due to drought.

Tobacco exports have already earned US$177.64 million since January to mid-March this year, with South Africa and China being top buyers. The country’s tobacco earnings closed 2018 at $892 million from 184.1 million kgs exported to different parts of the world.

The bulk of the tobacco has been exported to China with the rest going to South Africa, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia.

Traditionally, the opening of tobacco auction floors leads to improved foreign exchange inflows in the country buyers scramble to purchase the crop at the same time bringing in the much needed foreign currency.

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