Zimbabwe earns $517m in tobacco sales

2012-08-02 14:37

Harare - Zimbabwe sold over 140 million kilograms of tobacco this year earning the country over half a billion dollars, in the best showing since land reforms began more than a decade ago, officials said on Thursday.

Figures released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board showed the country sold 140.8 million kilograms with sales reaching $517m, surpassing last year's 128 million kilos and $349m in revenue.

The average price per kilo this year was $3.67 compared to last year's $2.71, the board said.

Though the country missed a target of 150 million kilograms, tobacco farming is slowly rebounding after years of decline following farm disruptions over the last decade when President Robert Mugabe's government seized white-owned commercial farms to give to blacks.

Production has been rising since 2009, though it remains off a peak in 2000 of 236 million kilograms.

Zimbabwe was once the world's biggest tobacco exporter, with sales accounting for 30% of exports, but production fell to a low of 55.6 million kilograms on 2006, the weakest performance since independence from Britain in 1980.

The sudden collapse of commercial farming caused by the land reforms sent Zimbabwe's already wobbly economy into a tailspin, leading to world-record hyperinflation.

Mugabe has defended the scheme as necessary to redress colonial-era injustices, but the violent campaign had a political colouring linked to deadly attacks against his rivals.

The inflation, believed to have reached multiples of billions in 2008, made it impossible for the new farmers to budget to buy fertilisers and other supplies.

After the government abolished the Zimbabwe dollar and made the US dollar its currency of reference, farm production stabilised and began ticking upward.

Zimbabwe now has four auction floors operating, against just one floor last year.

Tobacco remains Zimbabwe's biggest agricultural export, though mining has overtaken farming as the main foreign currency earner.

  • raps.magans - 2012-08-02 15:00

    Good news that indigenous zimbabwean farmers are now sharing half a billion US$, if given enough financial and technicalsupport that huge figure can escalate to a billion dollar in a space of 3 YEARS.keep it up the hardworking people of Zimbabwe.

      richard.sloman.5 - 2012-08-02 15:25

      Would be interested to see how many of the farmers are the "indigenous" variety of which you speak, and am certain even if this is true, they wont be the ones benefitting from the money made... But good news indeed...

      lerato.kay.3 - 2012-08-02 15:35

      In as much as bad news is streaming from Zim there are some positives look at this article in The New York Times for real indegenous people are benefiting from this development. They are doing all the farming so who do you expect to benefit?\r\n

      richard.sloman.5 - 2012-08-02 15:43

      "They are doing all the farming so who do you expect to benefit?" The usual suspects; politicians, government officials, war veterans (particularly the ones that weren't even alive during "the struggle"...)...

      kooskanmar - 2012-08-02 15:50

      Can people eat tabacco leaves, cause 1.6mil people in Zim needs food assistence. Baby steps Zim - Last is also a place, and you fill the shoes perfectly. If this is how success is measured, SA is doing great.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-02 17:48

      What I can't understand is that now that things are starting to go well, why is the media still prevented from investigating and reporting these successes freely? If I had something to brag about I'd make every effort to show the world. This is why I take the good news with a pinch of salt, as it is impossible to hear or investigate the truth.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-02 17:50

      And as Koos says, what about food crops. If all crops are for export or non food crops, you are not a food independant state. I hope they start changing the focus from tobacco, smoking is becoming less and less accepted world wide, so tobacco is not the best crop for the future.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-02 18:30

      Since the mid 1990s, the 20% of the land owned by black commercial farmers produced 80% of all Zimbabwe's maize output. The cash crops for the subsidised western markets produced by the white farmers have always had zero to do with Zimbabwe's future food security. The 7 years of drought is what affected Zimbabwe's food output added with sanctions and no lines of credit and a mass exodous of the middle class. There are quantifiable achievements of Mugabe's much demonised land reforms as documented in a book entitled: Zimbabwe's Land Reform: Myths and Realities, by the British scholar and researcher Ian Scoones. As the fruits of land reform finally begin to show exciting success after 10 years of disappointment, and as many mining corporations bend to the dictates of the 51% indigenisation law, Zimbabweans have tasted blood and will not let up, regardless of what happens to Mugabe or people like Malema.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-02 18:43

      mgoqi??? What is a mgoqi? Why can Zim not feed its own people? Why is a third of Zim's population in SA?

      lerato.kay.3 - 2012-08-02 18:55

      If there are millions of Europeans in SA does it make sense to question what are our neighbours doing here? Really now, its globalisation! Is there famine in Europe?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-02 19:38

      Yes there was famine and deseases (lack of hygiene) in Europe which is why Gerhard's and Anthony's great grand parents ended up on these shores.

      lincoln.nkosi - 2012-08-05 21:56

      Slowboat Your conspiracy theories are scaring us please stop and receive the good news stop being a pessimist. Please visit Zimbabwe, i know i have and yes the farmers are making tobacco and making money out of it.

  • lerato.kay.3 - 2012-08-02 15:28

    This is impressive given where these guys are coming from, it’s good to know that at least 57 000 farmers are sharing the loot instead of less than 2000 farmers before land reform. I’m sure some quarters won’t be happy to hear of a success story coming from Zimbabwe, I can smell the theory of transitivity coming to play in mzansi. Imagine these farmers had no support from banks, government etc, greater things are happening in Zim it’s not all doom as we are made to believe

      Annelise - 2012-08-02 15:40

      If the "new" farmers are so successful why is there such a huge food shortage in Zim? Only last week did Zim report a shortfall on maize production for this past season....again.The Big Bad West, also known as The World Food Organization has to help......again!

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-02 16:23

      Annelise, Zimbabwe is going through a massive drought, the failed crops are not all because of land reform.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-02 17:55

      Lerato - think of it this way. Those 2000 farmers probably employed more than 57 000 people (average 30 per farmer?), so by providing employment you are also sharing. It does sound fair though - I just wonder what the per capita income of these 57 000 people are? If they are earning more than they would have as farm labour I guess you can't argue with the fairness - would be nice to get some independant and honest figures in this regard.

      lerato.kay.3 - 2012-08-02 18:22

      These guys' income has increased exponentially read the New York Times;

  • Billy - 2012-08-02 15:33

    glad i dont smoke anymore

  • bzondikoata - 2012-08-02 15:47

    Harare - Zimbabwe sold over 140 million kilogrammes of tobacco this year earning the country over half a billion dollars, in the best showing since land reforms began more than a decade ago, officials said on Thursday.

  • kooskanmar - 2012-08-02 15:49

    Can people eat tabacco leaves, cause 1.6mil people in Zim needs food assistence. Baby steps Zim - Last is also a place, and you fill the shoes perfectly. If this is how success is measured, SA is doing great.

      salee.sithwell - 2012-08-02 17:04

      I bet they can use the profits to buy food! This is something to celebrate. They must just keep going. A stronger Zimbabwe is good for Southern Africa.

      walter.lebza - 2012-08-02 19:30

      Or they can fry the leaves like spinach. You must eat your vegies man.

  • Thapelo - 2012-08-02 16:07

    woooow we should replace our politician with our counterpart in the north.

  • farai.chimanya.71 - 2012-08-02 16:53

    I am certain the South Africans can learn that giving land back to black African is not Very Bad.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-02 18:02

      Its all about how it is done. Mugabe did it destructively and for political reasons only. If land reform is done constructively, I don't think many people have an issue with it. Even in SA it has been done badly, land has been bought and given to people who are not interested in farming. I know a lot of you black guys see land reform as a sort of revenge on us whites, but if you try to look beyond revenge and towards uplifting yourselves, you can achieve your goals without much pain to anyone - black or white. The way Mugabe did it caused a lot more suffering for black people than white, it was like a spiteful child, unconcerned with the consequences of his actions. The damage done by his political games cost many lives, and created a lot of misery. It could have been done better, that all ...

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-02 18:03

      Oh, I'm a farmer by the way, and my land is currently gazetted as a land claim. Just saying ...

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-02 18:16

      The political leadership in Zimbabwe have an uphill task to lead their country to a system, where all may enjoy the dignity of work and live in peace, if they show some imperfections during this huge task, then show me any system perfect during inception.

  • Warwick Bristow - 2012-08-02 18:04

    The farmers growing the tobacco are mostly white, leasing land from "war veterans"who took land away from the previous white owners. There is money to be made for the farmer and for the new farm owner.

  • millionwatts1 - 2012-08-02 19:36

    I heard from a white farmer and friend of mine from Zim (yes I have white friends)that the animosity between war vets/govt is dying down so people just want to get on with farming and there is better cooperation between the old and 'new' farmers after everybody realized they probably need to work together than against each other. We could be light years behind here.

  • sam.ntshangase - 2012-08-02 19:59

    Aluta Continua Zim, keep it there we knew Zim will bounce back, I m over the moon considering the income is shared amongst blacks, get more machinery from East, we see West is throwing the towel already, Viva Mugabe Viva, we love you

  • Vince.York - 2012-08-02 21:30

    Puff of smoke but they still have not found 'John Galt'........

  • Chalie Chari - 2012-08-03 07:31

    vhivha zim vhivha

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