13 000+ new to­bacco farm­ers reg­is­ter

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

AT least 13 540 farm­ers have reg­is­tered to grow to­bacco for the first time dur­ing the 2016/17 crop­ping sea­son, re­cent sta­tis­tics from the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor show.

The To­bacco In­dus­try and Mar­ket­ing Board (TIMB) said as at last Fri­day, a to­tal of 71 438 farm­ers had reg­is­tered to grow and mar­ket the crop this sea­son.

Of the to­tal num­ber of reg­is­tered to­bacco grow­ers, at least 33 494 are com­mu­nal farm­ers. Since the coun­try started us­ing mul­ti­ple for­eign cur­ren­cies in 2009, the to­bacco in­dus­try has been one of the fastest to re­cover from the eco­nomic melt­down of the past decade.

Many com­mu­nal farm­ers have been aban­don­ing other cash crops such as cot­ton for to­bacco due to the favourable prices. The TIMB also said at least 14 600 hectares have been put un­der to­bacco as at the end of last week, down from 15 308 hectares planted dur­ing the com­pa­ra­ble pe­riod last year.

Of the 14 600 hectares of planted to­bacco, at least 1 104 hectares were put un­der dry land to­bacco. The TIMB said farm­ers who have planted ir­ri­gated to­bacco are from Mashona­land East, Mashona­land West, and Mashona­land Cen­tral, Mid­lands and Man­i­ca­land prov­inces.

Some farm­ers in Mashona­land East and Mashona­land West prov­inces have also started plant­ing dry land to­bacco. The TIMB also said at least 123,2 mil­lion kilo­grammes of to­bacco worth $670,9 mil­lion had been ex­ported at an av­er­age price of $5,45 per kg. The bulk of the to­bacco was ex­ported to China while other coun­tries buy­ing Zimbabwe’s Vir­ginia to­bacco in­clude among oth­ers, South Africa, Bel­gium, United Arab Emi­rates and Rus­sia.

At least 202 mil­lion kg of to­bacco were sold dur­ing the 2016 mar­ket­ing sea­son, sur­pass­ing the 190 mil­lion kg tar­get that the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor had set. The past crop­ping sea­son was char­ac­terised by drought which re­sulted in farm­ers plant­ing late, while the crop was also heav­ily af­fected by dry spells. To­bacco is one of Zimbabwe’s ma­jor agri­cul­tural ex­ports. — New Ziana

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