By Elita Chikwati
TOBACCO growers have so far earned US$466,1 million from the sale of 125,7 million kg since the opening of the selling season in February.
This is an increase from last year’s US$366,7 million raised after the sale of 97,5 million kg.
Of the 125,7 million kg, 44,7 million representing 35 percent of the total mass was brought in by farmers from Mashonaland West followed by Mashonaland Central with 36,8 million kg accounting for 30 percent, Mashonaland East with 26 million representing 21 percent, Manicaland with 17,8 million representing 14 percent.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that 1,6 million bales have been sold this year, compared with 1,2 million over the same period last year.
The bulk of the crop has been sold through the contract floors, with more than 974 000 bales having been sold by Day 64. The auction floors sold more than 674 000 bales. In terms of daily sales, Premier Tobacco Floors had the highest average price of US$3,94 per kg on Monday, followed by Boka at US$3,63 and the Tobacco Sales Floor at US$3,38 per kg.
The highest price offered at the floors on the day was US$4,99 while the lowest was US10 cents per kg. The lowest price offered at Premier Tobacco was US20 cents per kg. A total of 1 449 856 kg were sold on the day with 1 107 608kg being sold under contract and the balance of 342 248kg being sold under the auction system.
Of the 342 248 kg, TSF sold 151 589kg followed by Boka with 98 800kg and Premier with 91 859kg.
About 170 million kg are expected to be sold this year as the country continues to register growth in the industry. In 2012, agriculture grew by 4,6 percent with tobacco being the main driver.
The crop accounted for 10,7 percent of GDP in 2012 and constituted 21,8 percent of all total exports, compared with 9,2 percent for other agricultural commodities.
Most farmers are switching to tobacco due to the favourable prices and an efficient marketing system, which ensures they receive their cash immediately.