HARARE: Zimbabwe’s tobacco production is expected to rise 8.5% year-on-year to 230 million kg in 2023 following good rains and as more farmers planted the crop, the industry regulator said on Wednesday.
“It looks like we are going to have a good crop. We are expecting 230 million kg,” Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) Chairman Patrick Devenish said at the opening of the 2023 marketing season.
Tobacco is one of the biggest export earners in Zimbabwe, which aims to increase production to 300 million kg by 2025. Its output peaked at 261 million kg in 2019.
After the collapse of commercial agriculture following the government’s seizure of land from many white farmers in 2000, tobacco has emerged as the most successful sub-sector.
The sector contributes nearly $1 billion to export earnings every year, Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said on Wednesday. Government statistics showed it accounted for more than 12% of exports in January.
Tobacco land use grew to 117,000 hectares this year from 110,000 hectares in 2022, according to the TIMB. The industry also saw an increase in the number of tobacco farmers to 148,527 this year from 123,000 in 2022.
Zimbabwe is currently implementing a “Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan”, which seeks to increase tobacco production and local processing and curb the export of unprocessed tobacco.
“We seek to localise the financing of tobacco. We wish to transform the tobacco sector so we don’t export value,” Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said on Wednesday.
“This industry is on the cusp of growth.”
Tobacco prices in Zimbabwe opened at $4.35 at the start of the new marketing season, up from $4.20 last year.