Tobacco farmers pocket $650m

Dr Joseph Made

Dr Joseph Made

George Chisoko Senior Assistant Editor
TOBACCO growers this year pocketed US$650 million from the sale of 200 million kg (200,000,000 kg = 440,924,524 lbs) of the crop that has gained popularity countrywide.
Unlike in the past when much of the crop was produced by white former commercial farmers, this year’s output came from 106 439 growers registered by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

During the year under review, nearly 33 million kg (33,000,000 kg = 72,752,547 lbs) of tobacco was exported to countries across the world, earning the fiscus US$142 million.

As at the end of last month, farmers had sold 204 million kg (204,000,000 kg = 449,743,015 lbs) of tobacco, earning US$647 million, which went directly into their pockets.

The crop volume and earnings should increase by the time mop-up sales close this month.

The boom in tobacco earnings and the expected bumper maize crop harvest bode well for Zim-Asset — the country’s economic blueprint — whose food security and nutrition cluster identifies agricultural productivity as a major pillar of economic revival.

Farmers last season produced 153 million kg (153,000,000 kg = 337,307,261 lbs) and pocketed US$566 million.

What the communal, small-scale and commercial farmers produced this season falls short by only 37 million kg (37,000,000 kg = 81,571,037 lbs) of the record crop that the white former commercial farmers produced in 2000 when they dominated the commercial farming landscape.

In less than 14 years after land reform, tobacco farmers have managed to hit the 200 million kg (200,000,000 kg = 440,924,524 lbs) mark, which the white former commercial farmers achieved over decades when they produced 236 million kg (236,000,000 kg = 520,290,939 lbs) in 2000.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made last night said: “We have been vindicated as a country. Our detractors thought we would fail to work on the land and that crop production would fall to embarrassing levels. We are indeed endowed as a country from a human resources point of view and have shown to the world that we are a determined people.

“We need to congratulate the farmers, the TIMB and the research board (TRB) for single-handedly producing the crop that has given us great pride.’’

In 2008, tobacco production tumbled to 49 million kg (49,000,000 kg = 108,026,508 lbs) as farmers struggled in an operating environment riddled with sanctions and drying up of funding from banks that had for years assisted white former commercial farmers.

The determination in the farmers to rebound the tobacco sector and push the volumes to three digit figures, saw them working with the TRB, TIMB and contractors to register gradual increases in production over the years.

“The production that our farmers have achieved has broken the myth that our people did not have the farming skills to grow tobacco and that they needed to be commanded by whites. We have shown that we can grow the complicated crop on our own, drawing advice and knowledge from our research and extension teams. There is no doubt that production will reach 210 million kg (210,000,000 kg = 462,970,751 lbs) or more by the time the mop-up sales close,’’ Minister Made said.

The output could have been much more than 204 million kg (204,000,000 kg = 449,743,015 lbs) had farmers been more meticulous in handling the crop.

The poor curing infrastructure, coupled with power losses resulted in the loss of a substantial volume of tobacco.

“We must bear in mind the fact that our farmers produce with little or no irrgation at all yet white farmers produced under 100 percent irrigation. Imagine what would happen to production if all our farmers; communal, small-scale, A1 and A2 would produce under full irrigation; there is no doubt that we would reach 300 million kg (300,000,000 kg = 661,386,787 lbs) or more in tobacco output,’’ Minister Made said.

It was the wish of President Mugabe, Minister Made said, to see the success scored in the tobacco sector being replicated across all crops and the livestock sector.

It is instructive to note that while some parts of the world seemed united in their opposition to the land reform programme almost all the countries in the world bought Zimbabwe’s tobacco.

Zimbabwe National Farmers Union president Mr Garikayi Msika said it needed no economist or rocket scientist to know that given the right operating economic environment “our farmers can never fail the nation when it comes to crop production.’’

“What the farmers have achieved in less than 14 years speaks for itself in terms of their determination to succeed. They have been operating in an adverse economy. They are poorly mechanised and poorly funded yet they are able to rebound the tobacco crop to such commendable levels,’’ he said.


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  • Chifodhla

    Please do something about the unfair practices at these Tobacco sales floors tanzwa nechitsotsi. Some of us made losses we cant even go back kunorima fodya yacho. Murikuda kuti tibhadhare rent which is fine but you dont want to help us get rid of the corruption at these sales floors so where will we get the money from. The rents we are not refusing to pay but help us get rid of the corruption at the floors

    • Dumi

      Chifodhla. You did not exactly specify chitsotsi chiri kuitika. I would be very interested to know

  • Bigboy Musonza

    I am proud to be Zimbo

  • shylock munetsi

    kumusha miti yapera , hameno takazvipa dzimwe 3 yrs chete tinenge tava negwenga. ministers Made gadzirisai ipapo it seems you are paying a blind eye on that issue.

  • Truth

    Give someone land, you have empowered him, make him a worker on the farm,you enslaving him. Pamberi nokurima, pamberi naVamugabe, pasi nesimbe. Muvhu muneyi? Mune zvese!…Zvese..zvese muvhu!!!!!

  • Dhunanga

    I am so disappointed by the practice at our tobacco floors otherwise this year alone the country must have lost more than three farmers out of corruption at the selling points like T.S.F. People are being asked to pay bribes for better pricing and this is done openly with the second markers even shouting to the farmer to say “the price marked by the first marker shows that a bribe has been pocketed, we will not leave it like that if the farmer is not giving us our share of the cake”.

    Something that is so bad for a nation…I don’t know what the authorities think this wiill take us to because I want to be clear to say this is not a secret, it’s known and it’s in force as if it’s part of the selling process

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    We are proud of the tobacco farmers. But it must be understood that more farmers switched to tobacco becoz of the price incentive and better profits compared to the other important crops also. In any business the incentive to make a profit and get a living from any activity is paramount! As a country , we cannot just be proud of tobacco , but need to balance our success in other areas so that the agric sector can feed our manufacturing sector to recover.! This is more so considering that the bulk of tobacco is exported raw , without beneficiation.
    The urgent issue of deforestation needs attention , not just speeches only about the disappearing forests! There is a long time lag between planting trees and having them mature for tobacco treating! Even the use of wood saving better barns may fail to rescue the farmers from the critical impending shortages of wood fuel! Alternative means can be applied to save our trees and the govt should lead that exercise!
    Our EMA appears toothless as they just gaze at farmers doing us proud on tobacco farming,as they fear being accused of disturbing our tobacco success! The point is that lets balance success with good invironmental management! All crops need incentives ,becoz they are also important. In fact , we would have a stronger and balanced multiplier effect on our economy from our our agric sector is all crops are better produced! I personally , grow soya bean and maize on my A1 plot!

  • Combatant (formerly Ex combat

    well done Zimbabwe, now Minister Chinamasa please find funds to help the farming sector with inputs. We can do even better than this i believe

    • Saskia

      14 years muchingotengerwa mainputs here varume, tanzwa kunge zvanzi zvaita vani

    • daniel101

      urimbwende unongofunga kupihwa mainputs,where are you taking the 650million ,reinvest that amount ,how long do you want to be spoon fed.

      • Combatant (formerly Ex combat

        ko kutuka ndokunei. I never said tobacco i said farming sector. There are other farmers growing different crops that need assistance. It happens all over the world. Governments subsidise their farmers even in developed nations so please rave and rant at something else. Simpleton

        • daniel101

          name the other crops ?wheat has always been supported yet you fail to meet targets which continue to be revised downwards,or wakumirira vanorima mapotatoes are they the ones that need funding because as of maize noone is still farming this crop all of you self centered farmers have stated farming tobacco,do we eat tobacco how much has it generated if it truly generates money why do we fail to pay for maize imports?so why should our taxes be used to fund backward farmers who fail to prioritize a countries needs when all you do is buy exjaps park them at your thatched houses self finance your self the best government can do is give you those permits.farming is a business approach it as one

  • Marz

    Great work as this show great revival in agriculture, but ministers should engage the farmers to root out corruption on the sales floor. Corruption is still a cancer in the Zimbabwe society

  • Dhunanga

    After all the effort by farmers I think the authorities are a bit reluctant to protect them against unnecessary extortion by lazy thieves who are marauding the tobacco sales floors claiming to be influential on pricing. This has become part of the selling process, and, as it is right now, there is no doubt that the virus has managed to spread and has affected the staff at the floors because they send and receive signals openly and they even have the guts to say it out to the farmers.

    This will not take us anywhere and it’s corruption spreading allover while we watch as nothing can be done.


    Black Power

  • concerned farmer

    most farmers are crying because of being short changed by the buyers and the rampant corruption that was being done under the nose of the government in most auction floors. tobacco was not bought this year on a level field and it depended on who you are in the country and how many connection you had to people working in the tobacco industry. l tell you most of the ordinary farmers went home crying because their tobacco was not bought fairly and they feel that the government was using could marara be bought by a high price compared to quality tobacco. how could somebody be told kuti we just bought your tobacco for the sake of buying but we had reached our target this year. this statement was their excuse in cheating the farmers yet ironically the minister here is saying we need to increase the output of tobacco. how could farmers increase their output when you are failing to to buy their tobacco with a reasonable price so that they go back to their field smiling.l tell you next year’s tobacco output will be very low as most people made losses due to unfair prices that were offered by most auction floors.

  • Col Sibangilizwe Khumalo

    Let us use this successful model for other crops: maize ,soya and ranching and vegetables .It makes me smile

    • Truth

      This is where we are going..farming its not easy. But I tell you, we will reach there. A number have drilled boreholes now…give these people 10 more years we are going to have an overproduction of cabbages.

  • Muzambiringa

    Vashandi vakudzwe!
    Ruzhinji rugutswe!
    Ngai komborerwe
    Nyika yeZimba Bwe!

  • Observer

    Now wait, before I get all excited, $650milliion to 106,439 growers = $6107/grower (average). Is this enough to meet overheads, pay labour, ensure profit for next season… Mmmm, I wonder. #justobserving#.

    • Isu Zvedu

      Average $6107/grower iyo yakaenda kumakoronyera, real farmer chaiye haana chaakawana and Gvt is not doing anything about that

  • gondo

    congrats to all the farmers. i thk the figure we shld be looking at is what was the average each white farmer was producing and translate it to a target for each of our farmers. if we have over 100 000 farmers growing tobacco it means if each farmer is growing about 2000kgs or 2 tonnes. if we can push that up to 10 tons per farmer then we in business. we need a lot of money for inputs to realise that.