Tobacco sales have so far recorded a 11,64% decline when compared to the same period last year, signifying reduced yields this selling season as effects of poor rains in the last selling season took a toll.
A recent Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) trading update shows that on day 49 of the selling season a total of 9,1 million kgs was delivered on the auction with an additional 129,9 million kgs on the contract farmers platform.
"The total delivered on the two platforms was 139,1 million kilograms compared to 157 ,4 million kilograms delivered during a comparative period last year to record a decline of 11,64%.
"In terms of value, a total of US$29,1 million worth of the golden leaf was sold on the auction and US$ 387,6 million worth by contract farmers to give a total of US$429,1 million to record a 2,88% decline," TIMB said.
However, the average prices on both the two floors have increased by 9, 73%, in a development which market watchers believe to be prompted by the scarcity of the golden leaf.
The quality of bales delivered registered an improvement with the number of rejected bales for the season reducing by 18, 9%.
"Bales laid at 1, 8 million as compared to 2, 1 48 million laid in the same period are quite lower at a 12,1% decline," said TIMB.
Despite the weather related setbacks being experienced, the golden leaf's productivity is on a rebound in Zimbabwe following a period where production dwindled from a high of 290,000 tons in 1998 to fewer than 60,000 tons a decade later following the departure of white farmers who accounted for the majority of growers before the land reform.
In recent years, the Southern Africa nation has rapidly increased the size of its crop, reclaiming its space as one of the world's top five exporters of tobacco.
TIMB records show that in 2021 over 220,000 tons of tobacco were exported in 2021.
However TSL Limited, tobacco merchant, anticipates that this year's crop will be 10% to 15% less owing to unfavorable weather, according to one of the country's biggest merchants, TSL Limited.