THE increase in the number of tobacco growers registering for this year’s selling season is likely to push the expected 170 million kg upwards, an official with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.
Report by Kudzai Chimhangwa
The latest statistics released by the board indicate that up to 82 833 growers had registered for the 2013 season compared to 58 801 during the same period last year.
Only a fortnight ago, about 77 604 growers had registered for the 2013 season.
TIMB chairperson, Monica Chinamasa said more resettled people were realising that there was absolutely no reason why they could not grow the crop on land where tobacco was previously grown.
“Secondly, tobacco is the only crop which is paying well and on time, compared to other crops. They are looking for cash,” she said.
She said most farmers were doing their best to produce a good quality crop although the major problems centred on the lack of funding or investment in research and development as well as issues to do with access to inputs.
Good quality cured tobacco reaching one metre long is fetching as much as US$5,80 per kg this season.
The board’s figures indicate that Mashonaland Central province contributed a total of 26 109 farmers including 8 271 new tobacco growers in 2013.
Mashonaland West also witnessed a substantial increase of 7 710 new growers with a total of 25 633 farmers from the province growing the golden leaf.
Manicaland province had 4 674 new growers, totaling 15 515 farmers from the province.
A1 farmers constitute 43% of re-gistered growers, closely followed by 39% being communal area farmers.
Up to 7,6 million kg of tobacco have been sold to South Africa followed by the United Arab Emirates and China at 2,2 million kg and 1,7 million kg respectively.
Sales to date rose to 42,8 million kg at an average price of US$3, 74 per kg compared to 34,5million kg averaging US$3,71 per kg last year.
Zimbabwe’s reputation for producing high quality, well-graded flue-cured tobacco with minimal chemical residues has continued to attract a ready global market.
In 2009, the country produced 58,5 million kgs worth US$174,5 million progressively moving upwards to 144,5 million kg worth US$540 million last year.
Downstream industries benefitting from the tobacco industry include auction floors, merchants, cigarette manufacturers, and primary agro-input suppliers among others.