Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube has projected a 14 percent decline in tobacco output this year largely to a slump in area planted.Tobacco production has been on the increase in the past few years, with farmers selling a record 259 million kg last year, up from 253 million kg in 2018. Last year, it generated US$747 million in exports mainly to China and Europe, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe data.
“During the 2019/2020 agriculture season, area planted for tobacco declined by 11 percent to 117 049ha from 132 040ha done in the previous season on account of low prices. Therefore, output for 2020 is expected at 224 million tons, down from the previous year’s output level of 259.5 million tons,” Ncube said in a budget statement.
Marketing of tobacco is progressing well in compliance with the World Health Organisation Covid-19 health guidelines. Also, the decentralised marketing model is supporting deliveries as well as reducing costs. Critics of the government say there is need for the government needs to incentivize tobacco farmers by increasing the foreign currency retention threshold.
At least 143.98 million kilograms of tobacco worth US$350.22 million have been sold so far at auction and contract floors in the country since the selling season opened on April 29 this year.