Zimbabwe predicts 2021 tobacco sales boost

Zimbabwe expects sales of its biggest agricultural export - tobacco - to increase by 8.7% this year, the industry regulator said on Wednesday (April 7).

That boost comes after the southern African country received its highest rainfall in three years.

Zimbabwe's tobacco farmers sell their crop at auction floors in the capital Harare and to contracting companies, which then export it, mostly to China.

According to Tobacco Industry and Marketing Data, this year's tobacco sales will reach 200 million kilograms, up from 184 million last year.

Output had fallen in 2020 due to drought.

Higher sales would be good news for a country that was already grappling with a shortage of foreign currency, spiralling inflation and high unemployment even before the global health crisis.

Last year, tobacco exports earned $782 million, only behind gold and nickel matte, according to official data.

At a ceremony to mark the start of tobacco selling season, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said tobacco farmers would receive 60% of their sales in foreign currency this year, compared to 50% last year.

He added that the government was aiming to increase tobacco production to 300 million kilograms by 2025.