92k ha put under tobacco

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Tobacco farmers have planted nearly 92 000 hectares of the crop, an increase from the area put under the crop during the corresponding period last year.

The bulk of the crop was produced under dryland as most farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture as they do not have irrigation facilities.

According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board’s latest statistics, farmers planted 91 805 ha this season, compared to 87 755 ha during the same period last year.

Mashonaland West is leading the list in terms of the area planted with farmers from the province having planted 31 031 ha.

Farmers in Mashonaland Central planted 30 479 ha, Manicaland 16 210 ha, Mashonaland East planted 13 804 ha, Midlands 228 ha and Masvingo 53 ha.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President Mr Wonder Chabikwa said tobacco production was going on well except for some cases where the crop was destroyed by hailstorms.

He said the situation was unfortunate for some farmers who had not insured their crop.

He also said most farmers with an early crop were concentrating on curing while those with dryland were maintaining the crop.

“While we are happy about the heavy rains, in some areas it has caused false ripening and in some areas it has increased the rate of ripening. When tobacco ripens at a faster pace, it puts pressure on farmers as the leaves have to be removed and be cured before they get wasted.

“Some farmers do not have adequate curing facilities while others may have challenges if they do not have adequate labour for reaping and curing,” he said.

Tobacco is one of the country’s top foreign currency earners. Tobacco growers have been applauded for remaining resilient even under harsh economic conditions. The sector continues to bring in foreign currency through tobacco sales and exports.

Government has come up with an incentive to motivate tobacco farmers to continue producing the export crop.

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