The country earned US$783 953 from the sale of 264 589 kilogrammes of tobacco at an average of US$2,96 per kg after the first sale of the 2013 selling season on Wednesday. This was an improvement from the US$633 091 that was received after the sale of 177 861kg at an average price of US$3,56 last season.
Of the US$783 953, a total of US$345 994 came from Tobacco Sales Floors, which sold 114 636kg at an average price of US$3,02 per kg while Boka Tobacco Floors contributed US$234 761 after the sale of 78 970kg at US$2,97 per kg.
Premier Tobacco Floors added the balance of US$203 198 after selling 70 983kg at US$2,86 per kg. A total of 3 949 bales were offered for sale and 378 were rejected.
The highest price of the day was US$4,75 per kg while the lowest price was US$0,20 per kg. Last season the highest price was US$4,78 per kg while the lowest price was US$0,10 per kg.
On Wednesday farmers expressed mixed reactions to the prices after the first day of the season.
Farmers' Development Trust chief executive Mr Lovegot Tendengu said the US$4,70 was fair, considering that the leaves on offer were primings.
"These are the lower leaves and we hope for an increase in prices as we go upwards," he said.
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union second vice president, Mr Berean Mukwende said he expected the prices to be higher than the closing highest price of US$4,99 per kg last season.
"Last season we closed with the highest price of US$4,99 per kg and now we expected to open with a higher price, he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said indications were good this season. He was confident prices would increase as the quality of the leaf improved. Tengwe farmer Mr George Mutingondo said he was happy with the opening prices and said the season looked promising for him.
Meanwhile, contract sales got underway yesterday. This year's output is targeted at 170 million kg after many farmers turned to tobacco abandoning other cash crops, citing poor returns.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced about 144,5 million kg of tobacco against a projection of 130 million kg, with sales raking in US$527,6 million.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe's major agricultural exports, accounting for 10,7 percent of gross domestic product.
Major export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include China, UK, South Africa, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia.