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Tobacco earnings, production down

Ngoni Chanakira

DESPITE the rosy picture being painted that Zimbabwe’s tobacco earnings and production levels will skyrocket, boosting the ailing economy, figures released this week reveal a grim picture.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earner, and in normal seasons bails government out with much-needed hard currency.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which monitors “actual” tobacco production and earnings instead of “official estimates”, this week revealed that as compared to the same period in 2002 the tobacco mass sold and earnings decreased by 36 million kilogrammes and US$73 million, respectively.

The RBZ said as of August 8 cumulative tobacco sales amounted to 44,9 million kg, at an average price of US$2,14 per kg.

This compares to 80,1 million kg sold at an average price of US$2,11 per kg, during the corresponding period last year.

For the same period tobacco has earned US$96 026 873 compared to US$169 289 685 chalked up previously.

Analysts said the figures for the coming season could be worse judging from low production levels being experienced.

The disruption in agriculture to pave way for the controversial fast-track land resettlement programme has been blamed for the decreased production levels of most major foreign currency earning crops.

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