At least 88 640 farmers have registered to grow tobacco this year, up from 87 281 last year, although 26 375 who sold the crop last year have not yet listed, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board has said.
In its weekly report, the TIMB said at least 16 540 new farmers had registered.
The TIMB said the number of new communal farmers this season dropped from 16 936 last year to 10 105 while the number of new A1 farmers rose from 4 056 last year to 5 347 this year.
New A2 farmers also went down in the period under review to 546 from 4 847 last year while small-scale commercial farmers dropped to 542 from 1 146 in the same period last year.
TIMB has said auction floors will open late for the 2015 selling season because there was no harvested crop for sale.
The tobacco marketing season traditionally opens in mid-February.
In the 2015 National Budget, the Government projected that 90 000 hectares would be put under tobacco with output projected at 220 million kg.
Last year, flue-cured tobacco output amounted to 216 million kg, up from 165,85 million kg in 2013.
An oversupply of tobacco on the international market is expected this year and may affect prices on the local market.
Farmers have said the country is likely to meet its projected target of 220 million kilogrammes of tobacco this season despite late onset of the rains. – New Ziana.