Harare - Zimbabwe's tobacco sale closed Friday with a record crop of 122 million kg moving hands, which officials attributed to the increase of small-scale farmers who joined the industry.
Rodney Ambrose, chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, said indications for the next cropping season were that the country would produce 140 million kg.
"The tobacco selling season comes to and end today (Friday), with 122 million (kg) of the leaf having been sold," Ambrose said.
"If we get good weather without too much rain just like we had this year, the country could produce between 140 to 150 million kg."
The association also said the significant increase could be attributed the fact that about 51 000 small-scale resettled farmers had helped produce the crop.
According to government estimates, tobacco accounts for more than 50% of agricultural exports, translating to about 30% of Zimbabwe's total exports.
At the beginning of the selling season, prices ranged between $3.50 and $4.50 (2.7 and 3.5 euros) per kg.
However, these declined to 1.90 and 2.00 dollar/kg.
This years' crop output has surpassed the initial 77 million kg anticipated at the start of the year.
Last year, Zimbabwe sold 56 million kg.
Over the years, tobacco production and earnings declined due to President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which he said were meant to address colonial imbalances between white landowners and the black majority.
Production has also suffered as a result of successive years of drought.
Traditionally, tobacco sales start in April but this year they were brought forward to February at the request of small-scale
growers, who said they needed the money from the sales to finance their next crop.