A sudden drop in the price of tobacco could not have come at a worse time for Zimbabwe. Halfway through the selling season, the price is about 37% lower than last year — at a time when, on its current trajectory, inflation could hit 100% by year-end.It’s a blow for a country already in dire economic straits. Tobacco is a leading foreign currency earner. It accounted for nearly a fifth of Zimbabwe’s $5.3bn export earnings in 2018, bringing in almost $1bn.It’s also a large employer: there were about 172,000 growers this year — up from 111,000 for last year’s bumper season — but only about 2,000 grow more than 2ha.The average price at last count was $1.82/kg, against $2.87/kg a year ago, with little wriggle room. Insiders predict that, at the outside, it could rise by US20c.The situation will put the screws on producers already under strain. According to tobacco expert and opposition MP Rusty Markham, tobacco is an expensive crop, costing about $12,000/ha to farm.In the wake of the pos...

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