At least 8,1 million kilograms of tobacco worth about $14 million have been sold so far at auction and contract floors in the country since the marketing season opened last month, statistics from the industry regulator show. Previously a preserve for white commercial farmers, tobacco farming is fast becoming an attractive source of livelihood for many Zimbabwean small scale and communal farmers.
In a trading update on day 14 of business, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said sales had declined by 78% from $65,4 million recorded in the same period last year.
The average price for auction and contract floors stood at $1,75 per kg which is 36,7% lower than the $2,75 of the 2018 marketing season.
The highest price stood at $5,10 per kg while the lowest was at $0,20.
Tobacco output in Zimbabwe is expected to decline by as much as 15% this year owing to the bleak weather conditions under which the crop was grown.
The tobacco being sold this year was grown under grim weather conditions characterised by late rains and prolonged dry spells, particularly when the crop was almost ready for harvesting, prompting authorities to review projections downwards.
Last year, the country produced an all-time high of 252 million kilograms of tobacco, earning at least a billion dollars in revenue.
Tobacco is arguably one of the success stories of agriculture in the post-land reform era.