Tobacco hectarage down 4pc

Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Lack of confidence in prices and the effects of drought have affected tobacco production this season, with the area put under the crop declining to 89 500 hectares from 93 419 hectares last season, the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union has said.

Tobacco farmer registrations have also declined by 20 percent.

Drought affected the dryland crop as rains were delayed while some farmers had to reduce the hectarage put under tobacco this season due to unfavourable prices offered by buyers last season.

ZFU Weekly Market Guide states that the area planted this season declined by four percent.

“The current situation is that there is a decline in the total area planted between the two years by a significant four percent — 3 860ha,” read the guide.

“Lack of confidence in the market prices and poor rains are some of the reasons the area planted has gone down.

“This is witnessed by the drop in the number of registered growers for the 2015-2016 season.”

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board latest statistics indicate that 70 412 growers had registered as at January 14 against 88 536 for the previous season.

Registrations have declined by 20 percent.

According to the statistics, a decline of 45 percent has also been recorded among new growers.

TIMB said 9 025 new farmers have registered this season compared to 16 516 farmers during the same period last year.

Communal farmers are topping 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 while 5 865 A2 and 5 339 small-scale farmers have registered respectively.

Mashonaland West is topping the list of registrations with 27 201 farmers, a decline from 30 785 last year.

Mashonaland Central is second with 24 993 farmers, a decline from the 26 226 farmers last season.

Mashonaland East has 9 015 farmers this season from the 15 255 farmers last season, Manicaland registered a decline of 43 percent with 8 771 farmers registering this season compared to 15 435 farmers last season.

Masvingo has 132 registered farmers this season compared to 376 last year, Matabeleland has five farmers while 13 farmers registered during the same period last year.

Midlands has 295 farmers this season compared to 446 farmers last year.

Tobacco is one of the fmajor oreign currency earners in the country and supports thousands of households.

Most farmers who grew tobacco this season said the quantity and quality of their crop has been compromised by the low rainfall while others increased production costs as they turned to irrigation.

The low rainfall affected all farmers in the communal, A1 and A2 sectors.

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