ABN - Zimbabwe has ramped up its annual production of tobacco in an attempt to boost the struggling national economy.
The Southern African nation hopes to produce 205 million kilograms of tobacco in 2017, which is an increase of 3 million kilograms on the previous year’s total.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s primary export, and earns the country more than gold and platinum.
The increased production figures were confirmed by tobacco industry and marketing board spokesman Isheunesu Moyo on the eve of the annual tobacco auctions in capital city Harare.
Moyo said that the production boost was driven by an increased number of farmers growing the crop and added that tobacco buyers had borrowed US$700 million offshore to purchase the crop from farmers.
The merchants then process the tobacco leaves before exporting the produce, predominantly to China, a long-term investor in Zimbabwean tobacco.
The tobacco selling season should provide brief respite to the cash-strapped national economy.