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Zim to maintain tobacco dual marketing system

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE country’s tobacco players next year expect to sell at least 85 million kg under the dual marketing system, which starts in April.

rial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Although there is an increased output of the golden leaf, the anticipated production is still less than the Vision 160 plan, an ambitious project drafted by the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the government which hopes to push production of the golden leaf to 160 million kg next year.

Last year Zimbabwe produced 81 million kg of the golden leaf.

Already merchants, growers and the ZTA have set the tentative selling season for next year’s production for April 5. The date was arrived at at a meeting on Thursday last week.

Rodney Ambrose, ZTA chief executive officer, this week confirmed the date for the new marketing season.

“What we have tentatively agreed on is that the auction floors open on April 5 under the dual marketing season,” he said.

“We are to get an early start of the selling season because of the expected increase in output.”

Zimbabwe this year exported 30,7 million kg less tobacco when compared to the same period last year, figures provided by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) have revealed.

Latest figures indicate that to-date, Zimbabwe has exported 64,3 million kg of the golden leaf. At this time last year, the country had exported 95 million kg.

From the exported 64,3 million kg, the country has earned US$207,5 million.

Zimbabwe exports its tobacco mostly to China and the European Union.

Ambrose said that although this year’s crop is smaller, there were hopes that next year the industry would rebound.

“We came up with Vision 160. Although it is just a vision we hope that we will be able to meet the target,” he said.

“Although there were some delays in the disbursements of money that was availed to Agribank and TIMB some farmers who had already prepared their seedbeds managed to access funds.”

The government and the central bank this year availed $200 billion for tobacco production which was only availed five months after the normal seed-bed preparation period.

“It’s better than not getting anything at the end of the day,” said Ambrose.

Tobacco production has been in a free-fall since President Robert Mugabe began a violent seizure of commercial farms in 2000.

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