Workers grade cured tobacco at a community farm outside Harare. Picture: Reuters
Harare - Zimbabwe is likely to produce 205 million kilos of tobacco this year, slightly more than last year, with sales of its main export likely to improve dollar supplies in the cash-strapped economy, an industry official said on Wednesday.
Marking the start of annual tobacco auctions in Harare, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo said output would climb from 202 million kilos last year after more farmers grew the crop.
Tobacco earns more than gold and platinum for the country's coffers.
Moyo said that tobacco buyers had borrowed $700 million (R9.2 billion) offshore to purchase the crop from farmers.
The merchants process the leaf before exporting it, mostly to China, the largest investor in the country.
Zimbabwe is desperately short of dollars due to its moribund economy, although traditionally liquidity improves during the tobacco-selling season as cash is brought into the country.