Zimbabwe on course to achieve 185 million kg target for Virginia tobacco set for this year, with 151.4 million kg worth US$481.7M having already been delivered to both auction and contract floors since season began four months ago, industry board says

CAPE TOWN, South Africa , May 21, 2014 () – Zimbabwe is on course to achieving the 185 million kg target for virginia tobacco set for this year with 151,4 million kg worth $481,7 million having already been delivered to both auction and contract floors since the season began four months ago.

This compares favourably to the 118,8 million kg worth $440,5 million that had been delivered during the same period last year against a target of 170 million kg that was eventually missed.

According to the latest figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board a total of 109,5 million kg valued at $364,7 million have been delivered under contract while the balance of 42 million kg worth $117,05 million was received under the auction system.

Tobacco deliveries to contractors have remained strong due to firmer prices on offer while those to auction floors have remained depressed due to low prices on offer.

Contractors are offering an average of $3,33 per kg under the contract system and $2,79 per kg under the auction system.

The contractors who are also buyers under the auction system have attributed the discrepancy in pricing to banned chemicals that are being used by farmers who are operating outside the contract system.

Stakeholders in the tobacco industry said that the prospects of meeting the target are very high as there has been an increase in growers that registered to grow the crop this year.

"If all the farmers deliver their crop we will definitely meet the target and better still surpass it," said one of the stakeholders.

TIMB board chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa said they were very optimistic that the target will be met given that there was more tobacco that was coming from contracted farmers.

"We have been talking to contractors and indications are that there is still more tobacco that they are expecting judging by the estimates that they agreed on with their growers.

"I am therefore confident that we will meet the target," she said.

To date, about 105 355 growers have registered for the 2014 season and of these 78 431 have delivered tobacco to the floors.

During the same period last year 90 172 growers had registered to grow the crop. The prospect of meeting the target augurs well for the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation which projects a 9 percent growth in agriculture, hunting and fishing this year.

Tobacco, which accounts for 10,7 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, is one of the key crops that is expected to boost production in the agricultural sector.

Meanwhile China has reclaimed its spot as the top importer of the country's tobacco after importing 2,2 million kg worth $14,6 million since January.

The country has so far exported 21,4 million kg of tobacco worth $78,6 million. Most of the tobacco being exported is from last season.

Apart from China other top importers included South Africa, which paid $10,6 million for 2,46 million kg, Belgium which bought 3,7 million kg for $10,6 million, United Arab Emirates that took up 2,44 million kg for $7,5 million and Russia that imported 1,6 million kg worth $4,3 million.

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