The tobacco selling season kicked off in Harare on Wednesday with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) saying they expect sales of up to 170 million kilograms this year compared to 140 million last year.
According to the TIMB, the tobacco delivered at three auction floors, fetched an average price of $4.70 per kilogram at a time when farmers were expecting prices of up to $5 a kilogram this year.
It said 72,000 farmers are set to deliver high quality tobacco. The crop generated $517 million in foreign currency for Zimbabwe last year with buyers coming mostly from China and the European Union.
Parliamentary agriculture committee chairman, Moses Jiri, who attended the official opening ceremony, said farmers believe that they will surpass this year’s projected sales.
Charles Tuffs, Commercial Farmers’ Union president, disagreed saying it will be difficult to meet this year’s tobacco sales target due to shortages of agricultural inputs during the growing season.
VOA Studio 7 could not obtain figures of Wednesday’s sales though indications are that the three auction floors – Tobacco Sales Floor Limited, Boca Tobacco Auction Floors and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors - can handle a total of 33,000 bales a day.
According to the Universal Corporation of Virginia - the world’s leading leaf tobacco merchant and processer – Zimbabwe is the world’s fourth biggest exporter of tobacco after Brazil, India and United States.