Tobacco hectarage up 7.41 percent
THE hectarage planted under tobacco crop in the 2018/19 cropping season has improved by 7,41 percent to 79 708 ha from 74 238 ha in the comparable period last year.
Statistics released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), show that as of December 21, the area planted under tobacco had improved with the bulk of hectarage being dry land. A total of 62 861 ha of dry land have so far been utilised under tobacco while 16 847 were under irrigation. During the same period last year, 58 979 ha were put under dry land while 15 259 ha were for the irrigated tobacco.
TIMB revealed that by December 20 the number of new tobacco growers for the season had increased by 33 percent to 40 414 compared to 30 444 during the same period last year. In Zimbabwe, tobacco is grown in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland, which has registered two farmers.
Although Matabeleland region has two registered tobacco farmers so far, same as last year, no hectares have so far have been planted. Tobacco is one of the country’s major foreign currency earners.
TIMB has indicated that 184 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf have since the beginning of the year been exported to different countries across the globe raking in $891,6 million at an average price of $4,85 a kg. During the same period last year, Zimbabwe sold 182,3 million kg around the world at an average price of $4,96 a kg raking in $904,2 million.
The tobacco sector has since the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009, been pivotal in providing liquidity support to the economy. Against this background, Government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has offered incentives to the tobacco sector with a view to boosting the crop’s production and enhancing foreign currency inflows.
Such incentive schemes included the tobacco input finance facility, which RBZ increased from $28 million last year to $70 million in 2018. In this light, the number of tobacco growers in the 2018/19 farming season has also improved to over 166 000 from about 100 000 last year. — @okazunga.