Zimbabwe 2015 tobacco sales down nearly 9 pct after drought

Zimbabwe 2015 tobacco sales down nearly 9 pct after drought

HARARE, July 16 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s tobacco sales have dropped 8.5 percent to 188.5 million kilogrammes this year after a prolonged drought in the southern African country affected production of its top export earner, an official said on Thursday.

The tobacco selling season closed on Wednesday, with mop-up sales to follow and the chief executive of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), Andrew Matibiri said farmers were paid $554,5 million for the crop sold at auction floors and by private companies, down from $653 million last year.

The marketing season, which normally starts in mid-February, opened late this year following delayed rains and late harvesting by farmers.

After falling to an all time low of 48 million kilogrammes in 2008, the tobacco industry is again growing, with private firms providing the bulk of funding to mostly black farmers under a contract arrangement.