Buhle Nkomo Correspondent
The interest in farming by young Zimbabweans has steadily grown over the years. Many have seen it as a viable means to make an honest living and support themselves and their families.
Tobacco farming is one of the many areas which has attracted young Zimbabweans who wish to support themselves of the land. “I started growing tobacco when I was 23 years old. The three-year stint that I have grown tobacco has been characterised by hard work and determination. Tobacco production is lucrative,” said Simbarashe Nyakurimwa (26), a tobacco grower from Bindura in Mashonaland Central Province.
Nyakurimwa started growing tobacco after attending a farmer’s training workshops which was conducted at the company where he worked.
“Being involved in the industry motivated me to venture into tobacco farming. I used to travel with agronomists who trained farmers on good tobacco farming practices. In the process I learnt how tobacco is farmed.
“With experience, my farming practices have improved gradually over time. This year I managed to attain almost 3 500kgs from 1,5 hectares. My prices ranged between $1,10 and $5,10. Last year, from the same plot my yield was slightly less than 2 000kgs,” he said.
According to Nyakurimwa there were various key steps that were required to ensure a successful tobacco season for a farmer. “One of the critical success factors in tobacco production is early land preparation as well as adhering to good agronomic practices. “Disking has to be done properly and soon after the destruction of stalks so as to conserve the moisture. This allows the soil to become soft, permitting roots to go deep when the crop has been planted.
“Care should be taken during establishment of seedbeds as pests and diseases initiated at this stage compromise quality and yield. A farmer should be able to control pests and diseases during the seedbed stage so as to promote growth of healthy plants.
“Chemicals and fertilizers should be applied correctly and when it comes to nitrogen farmers should ensure that their crops have optimum amounts as too much or too little may compromise both yield and quality.
In short one needs to have their soil tested,” he added. Nyakurimwa said he reinvested his proceeds from this season in his farming business through rehabilitating his barns as curing is a make or break stage in tobacco production.
Michael Tigere, 29, a tobacco grower from Mvurwi concurred with Nyakurimwa on the importance of adhering to good agronomic practices.
“Tobacco farming requires adherence to good agronomic practices. One cannot afford to take short cuts. I plan and prepare in time. “Land preparation and establishment of seedbeds are the initial stages in tobacco production. Fumigation is requirement at the onset.
“Chemicals for termites are applied three days before nursery. Once the nursery is done, watering will be the routine until the hardening process which is followed by top dressing,” Tigere said.
According to Tigere, the plants have to be trimmed after two months, then the hardening process has to be done after trimming. Skipping one of these stages compromises both yield and quality.
“In tobacco farming, learning is a continuous process. I urge other farmers to attend training programmes conducted by TIMB in conjunction with AGRITEX or those held at Kutsaga. “I make use of extension services from AGRITEX whenever my tobacco plants develop something I am not familiar with.
“In the five years I have farmed tobacco, besides my upkeep, I have managed to buy a two tonne truck, a motor bike and a peanut butter grinding machine which I now use for income generation. I encourage other youths to do likewise and venture into tobacco farming,” said Tigere.
Farmers are encouraged to register for the 2017 /2018 season as well as to attend training workshops offered by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board in the districts.
If for any reason there are stalks that have not yet been destroyed or regrowth, farmers are urged to attend to them as a matter of urgency.
- For additional Information contact TIMB on telephone numbers 0772145166 /9 or 0279-22082 /21982 or 025-3439 or 067-24268 /29246 or 0277-2700 or 064-7280 or 0271-6772 or Toll Free Number 0731999999 or E-mail: [email protected]