Tobacco reaping, curing starts

TOBACCO3Agriculture Reporters
Harvesting and curing of the early planted irrigated tobacco is underway in most parts of the country although farmers are facing a shortage of labour and experiencing constant power cuts due to incessant rains.

The industry is yet to come up with opening dates for the 2015 tobacco marketing season.

Most tobacco growers are having difficulties reaping their tobacco, while in other areas the crop is showing signs of false ripening.

False ripening is when the crop appears to have matured due to leaching.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZFCU) President Mr Wonder Chabikwa said recent heavy rains were causing the rotting of leaves in some areas.

“Electrical faults due to incessant rains are also becoming rampant and this affects curing and the quality of the leaf. Farmers are also facing a challenge of false ripening.

“The problem can be solved by applying cup number five of calcium nitrate per plant to reduce the rate of the problem,” he said.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union president Mr Abdul Nyathi said farmers were also complaining of labour shortages and cash to pay some of the workers.

“Coal price and transport charges have increased production costs for farmers,” said Mr Nyathi.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board technical services director Mr Meanwell Gudu said stakeholders in the industry were yet to decide on the opening of the floors.

“Most stakeholders are still on their annual shutdown and we will start consultative meetings next week to plan on the marketing season,” he said.

Statistics from the TIMB indicate that 88 167 growers have registered for the 2015 season compared to about 86 006 who had registered by the same period last year.

About 222 million kilogrammes of tobacco are projected to be sold this season with a target hectarage of 90 000.

A total of about 215 million kg was sold last season.

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