Zimbabwe’s tobacco sales have exceeded expectations this year even as the country suffers its worst drought in decades.
Zimbabwe is the continent’s top producer but forecasts had predicted a slump in output following the late start to the tobacco selling season as a result of late rains and delayed planting.
Now according to the state tobacco, marketing sales have surpassed 200 million kg’s, just short of the record 236 million kg’s produced in 1999.
The outlook was bleak at the beginning to the tobacco selling season back in March.
The sector had seen a 20% drop in producers compared to the previous year.
Farmers also complained about the low prices. Nevertheless the tobacco selling season has ended on the high.
Spokesperson for the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Isheunesu Moyo says: “This season we had 201.9 million kg’s compared to last year’s 198.9 million kg’s. We were surprised because we had projected 160 million kg’s but we got late rains in the season.”
The sales have brought in over 600 million US dollars in revenue for the tens of thousands of small scale farmers.
Zimbabwe is the biggest producer of tobacco on the continent, exporting most of its output to China and Europe and the Middle East.
The higher than expected output has spurred economic growth.
Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa says: “A lower than anticipated decline in agricultural production of minus 4.2% and a strong rally in the mining sector contributed to the revised real economic growth rate of 1.2%.
Planting for the 2017 season should have begun on the first day of spring.