Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
MANICALAND has registered a decline in the area put under tobacco for the 2017-2018 summer cropping season, statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) have shown.
According to the latest weekly bulletin from TIMB, 12 317 hectares have been put under the golden leaf so far, compared to 12 597 hectares during the same period last season. There was a corresponding decline in the dry land area planted from 10 822 hectares in the 2016-2017 season to 10 709 hectares in the review period.
The irrigated crop so far covers 1 608 hectares compared to 1 775 hectares during the same time last season. Despite the decrease, Manicaland Province currently has the largest area put under flue-cured tobacco followed by Mashonaland Central with 11 194 hectares.
Mashonaland East now has 9 925 hectares under tobacco while Mashonaland West has 5 659 hectares so far. The TIMB bulletin shows that the total number of new growers has increased by 116 percent to 29 852 this season from 13 842 registered by the same time last season.
Manicaland Province again registered the biggest increase in new registrations of 221 percent, bringing the number of new tobacco farmers in the province to 4 733 from 1 4776 during the same period last season.
The number of communal farmers taking up tobacco farming has grown to 17 261 according to information provided during the period under review. There are 10 705 A1 farmers, 1 067 A2 farmers and 819 small-scale growers that have registered to grow the golden leaf so far.