HARARE, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's earnings from sales of tobacco, a major foreign currency earner, fell 7.35 percent to a below target $551 million this year, the domestic tobacco industry said on Wednesday.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said in March at the start of the tobacco-selling season that Zimbabwe was likely to produce 205 million kg (205,000 tonnes) of tobacco this year but sales only amounted to 185 million kg.
Last year Zimbabwe produced and sold 200 million kg and earned $589 million, TIMB data showed. Tobacco is a major earner of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, along with gold and platinum.
Zimbabwe is desperately short of dollars due to its moribund economy and the central bank had hoped that liquidity would improve during the tobacco-selling season as cash is brought into the country.
The central bank said early this month that Zimbabwe would more than double its issuance of "bond notes," a domestic quasi-currency, to $500 million stoking fears of a slide towards the rampant money-printing and hyperinflation of a decade ago. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)