Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 1

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52 tobaccoasia As much as 10.7% of Zimbabwe's GDP is due to it tobacco exports. Tobacco is also expected to contribute the most to the expected 9% growth in Zimbabwe's agriculture this year, making it an important element of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socioeconomic Transformation (ZIM- ASSET), for which agricultural productivity is a key driver. The increase in the country's tobacco out- put is also proof of the success of Zimbabwe's land reform program, as more farmers plant to- bacco rather than other agricultural crops. The 2015 national budget projects that tobacco crops would take up 90,000 hectares and would produce 220 of tobacco. Last year, Zimbabwe's flue- cured tobacco output was 216 million kilograms, up from 165.85 in 2013. Facing challenges However, it seems that Zimbabwe's tobacco indus- try has already begun to experience some challeng- es, starting with off-season heavy rains followed by a dry-spell, which affected the tobacco crops – the heavy rain caused flooding which disrupted the planting and growth of the tobacco, most of which suffered the leaching of nutrients from the soil, particularly in light soils, and the dry-spell re- duced yields of the bulk of the late-planted crop. Zimbabwe's tobacco marketing season usually starts in mid-February, but this year's season was pushed to March 4 for auction floors and March 5 for contract sales as there was no harvested crop for sale. Even before the new dates for this year's sea- son were set, merchants had already indicated that they were only interested in buying the top leaves. Zimbabwe's Tobacco Industry and Mar- keting Board (TIMB) chairperson Monica China- masa was reported to have urged farmers not to bring the lower leaves, or primings, to the floors as merchants had already indicated they did not want them as they could get them at lower prices else- where. Last year, local companies spent US$29.3 million on about 8.1 million kilograms (kg) of tobacco imports to use for blending with locally- grown tobacco to make cigarettes. That price was still lower than the US$51.7 million spent in 2013 (14.3 at US$3.60 per kg). The bulk of the 2014 imports came from Zam- bia (US$21.4 million; 6.5 m. kg), India (US$4.4 mil- lion; 885,792 kg), Malawi (US$1.5 million; 257,035 kg), Mozambique (US$711,810; 99,000 kg), and Bangladesh (US$237,600; 79,200 kg). Other im- ports came from South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and UAE. The 2013 imports came from Zambia (US$24.3 million; 7.5 kg), Malawi (US$22.3 mil- lion; 5.3, India (US$3.9 million; 1.2, South Africa (US$461,230; 136,140 kg), and China (US$345,420; 99,000 kg). Outlook still positive, sales increased… Statistics from TIMB showed a positive start to the year with Zimbabwe earning about US$196 million from 27 of tobacco exported in January till mid-February 2015, six times more than the US$36 million that was made for the same period in 2014 on 10.5 of tobacco leaf. Come Rain or Shine, Zimbabwe Maintains Bright Outlook By Nattira Medvedeva Despite heavy rains and less-than-favorable natural conditions that threatened to affect Zimbabwe's tobacco crop this year, tobacco is still the country's most valuable crop and top foreign currency earner, followed by sugar, horticulture, and cotton. Zimbabwer has a long and proud tradition of tobacco farming

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