While Zimbabwe saw a record-breaking tobacco output this season it saw the lowest selling prices in almost a decade, placing the future of one of the country’s biggest foreign currency earners in jeopardy.
Figures from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) highlighted that during the 2018/19 agricultural season, Zimbabwe tobacco reached 257 547 838 kilogrammes by the end of August.
This is compared with last year's record output of 252.5 million kilograms recorded in the 2017/18 farming season.
Yet this year’s prices were 30.5% lower than last year due to a lower quality caused by drought, with the TIMB expressing concern that there would thus be fewer producers of the gold leaf for the upcoming season as many did not earn enough to replant.
The costs of getting the product to the auction floor have also escalated.
"Tobacco will, more worryingly, become a less important key foreign currency earner, social and employment contributor to the economy," added a TIMB spokesperson.