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Tobacco Sales Generate $517 Million for Cash-Strapped Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board says the country has this year sold more than 140 million kilograms of tobacco, earning just over half a billion dollars.

Tobacco Board Chief Executive Andrew Matibiri told VOA Studio 7 they recorded a 40 percent increase in sales as 141 million kilograms of tobacco went through the auction floors in Harare.

The golden leaf earned the country $517 million though it failed to surpass the projected total sales of 150 million kilograms.

Matibiri said this is the best ever tobacco selling season following the invasion of white-owned commercial farms in 2000 by members of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

At least 128 million kilograms of tobacco were sold last year, netting $349 million. This year’s tobacco selling period ended last week.

Matibiri told Voice Of America's Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye tobacco farming is slowly rebounding following years of decline.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Seiso Moyo said government plans to boost tobacco sales in the next crop season.

Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya of of Liberal Market Solutions said most small-scale farmers have moved from maize and soya bean production to tobacco farming because of its high returns.