Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Government is satisfied with the state of the tobacco crop and will monitor the opening of the tobacco auction floors today with keen interest to ensure farmers get better value for their crop, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said farmers had played their part in producing a good crop and it was now time for tobacco buying companies to play ball.
“We would like to thank farmers for the good tobacco crop and we know that after putting in so much hard work, our farmers always complain of low prices,” said Dr Made.
“As the auction floors open on Wednesday (today) we will see how the prices go and our desire is to have higher prices.”
Farmers have been complaining over the years of low prices despite producing high quality tobacco.
Dr Made was addressing thousands of zanu-pf supporters at victory celebrations for Hurungwe West legislator Cde Keith Guzah at Kaspikiri Business Centre on Monday.
He hailed farmers in Hurungwe for producing a good tobacco crop every year.
He called on farmers to use proper curing methods to maintain the quality of the crop.
More than 89 500 hectares have been put under flue-cured tobacco for the 2015-16 summer cropping season countrywide.
The season has seen a 20 percent decline in the number of farmers who registered to grow the golden leaf.
Low prices and drought have been cited for the decline in hectarage and number of farmers growing tobacco.
Communal farmers top the list of the registered growers with 33 722 having registered to grow the crop this season. The statistics show that 25 486 A1 farmers have registered as have 5 865 A2 farmers and 5 339 small-scale farmers.
Mashonaland West has 27 201 farmers registered to grow the crop, down from 30 785 last year.
Speaking at the same occasion zanu-pf Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo said farmers should fully utilise the land they were given. He implored farmers to desist from waiting on Government to provide inputs under the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme.
“In our areas and in our own way, we should, as farmers and communities, mobilise our own inputs at household level instead of waiting for the Presidential inputs scheme,” he said.
Dr Chombo said the Presidential inputs should come to complement what the farmers already sourced for themselves.