The Tobacco Research Board (TRB) produces sufficient tobacco seed to satisfy the domestic market while surplus is exported, an official has said. TRB general manager Dr Dalia Garwe said at the moment the board has in its stock, tobacco seed enough to plant for the next five cropping seasons. “The TRB is responsible for breeding tobacco varieties for Zimbabwe and the region and in our stock we have seed enough to plant for the next five seasons,” she said.
“We export seed for burley tobacco, which is more than 1,5 million tons per annum,” she added.
Zimbabwe requires 750 kg of tobacco seed per year.
Dr Garwe expressed concern over the increase in the number of farmers who are planting fake tobacco seed saying it compromises yields.
“We have farmers who are planting fake tobacco seed. Most of them buy it without knowing it is fake. We get to know about it when they come to TRB to complain that their crop is giving them disease problems or is not growing as expected,” she said.
“This past season, about 40 hectares were planted with fake seed at a farm in Macheke,” she said.
Dr Garwe warned farmers against buying tobacco seed from unregistered sellers.
“No one would have tested that seed for purity and germination so farmers will not reap much,” she said.
The country expects 215 million kg of tobacco to go under the hammer during this 2017 selling season.
Zimbabwe attained peak production of tobacco at 260 million kg in 1998, when the crop generated $582 million in export proceeds.
Production of the crop has since rebounded from a low of 48.8 million kg in 2008.
Export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include Belgium, Korea, United Arab Emirates, China, Sudan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand and Russia. — New Ziana.