Nyashadzashe Chamwaura Herald Reporter
More than 16 000 farmers have registered with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board to grow tobacco for the first time during the 2014/ 15 season. Statistics from the TIMB show that by January 2, 87 852 farmers had registered to grow tobacco throughout the country with 16 400 registering for the first time.
This is an increase from the 86 006 growers who had registered during the same period last year.
Of the registered growers, communal farmers constitute 46 percent with 40 869 from that sector having been registered.
A1 farmers constitute 37 percent with 32 236 registered farmers, 7 839 are from A2 sector constituting 9 percent and 6 908 small scale farmers constituting 8 percent.
TIMB statistics indicate that Mashonaland West recorded the highest registered number of new growers with 5 798 with the least being Matabeleland with only seven farmers registering.
Manicaland has 2 754 new growers, Mashonaland Central, 4 565, Mashonaland East 2 910, Midlands 201 and Masvingo 165.
Meanwhile, irrigated tobacco reaping and curing is continuing in most parts of the country although part of the crop has been affected by the recent heavy rains.
Some farmers said they were having difficulties reaping the crop as it had absorbed a lot of water and was breaking easily making curing more complicated.
Other farmers were also complaining of constant power cuts as a result of electricity faults due to the recent rains.
Beatrice farmer, Mr Crispen Vambe on Thursday said farmers had to pay better wages to workers to avoid having problems reaping their crop.
He said he is using the new energy saving barns and said the technology was efficient and environmentally friendly.
“We used to pay around US$60 000 for electricity using the conventional barns but with the new technology it has become so cheap that we pay below us$3 000 during the curing period,” he said.
Zimbabwe expects about 220 million kilogrammes of tobacco this season.