Less tobacco farmers register
OVER 50 000 farmers have so far registered to grow tobacco in the 2016/17 cropping season compared to 97 616 growers recorded during the same period last year.
According to latest figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), 50 665 farmers have registered to grow the crop in the next farming season.
TIMB indicated that 50 665 have so far registered to grow the golden leaf in the upcoming season.
The growers comprise communal farmers, A1 and A2 farmers as well as small-scale producers.
At present, the golden leaf is being grown in seven regions namely, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Midlands, and Matabeleland region, which is slowly venturing into the sector.
Last year, the number of farmers undertaking tobacco farming declined largely due to poor returns received in the 2014 and 2015 seasons against rising costs of production and increasing grower debt.
The further decline is also attributed to farmers who planted the crop in November and December 2015 due to the drought conditions prevailing.
The marketing board indicated that Mashonaland Central province has the highest number of registered tobacco growers for the 2016/17 farming season with 19 595 having so far registered.
Mashonaland West is on second spot with 18 884 registered farmers followed by Mashonaland East at 6 349 while Manicaland and the Midlands have recorded 5 735 and 70 respectively.
Masvingo and Matabeleland have 31 and one respectively.
This year’s tobacco selling season at the auction floors closed on Friday last week with over 188 million kilogrammes having gone under the hammer this year generating over $530 million.
This year’s tobacco sales targets were revised from 175 million kg to 190 million as deliveries continued trickling in.
Meanwhile, 57,4 million kg of the golden leaf have been exported to different parts of the country since the beginning of the year raking in $298,1 million.
During the comparable period last year, 63 million kg were exported generating $336,5 million. — @okazunga