Most of the tobacco crop is showing signs of distress due to excessive rains, raising fears that the country may not meet the 2015 target to produce 220 million kilograms.Total flue cured tobacco output last year amounted to 216 million kg, compared to 165,85 million kg produced in 2013.
An official with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board told New Ziana the volume of tobacco planted countrywide had not been ascertained.
“The final round of assessment of the tobacco crop is beginning next Monday to Friday,” he said.
He said heavy rains which continue to fall around the country had affected growth of tobacco, most of which is suffering from leaching of soil nutrients.
“Most of the tobacco crop is exhibiting signs of leaching due to excessive rains especially in light soils,” said the official.
The official however said the tobacco crop could improve if farmers used remedies like applying fertiliser.
“The quality of the crop can improve if farmers apply fertiliser and ore,” said the source.
Prospects for the 2014 /2015 agricultural season have been positive, and production in the main crops maize, tobacco and cotton was expected to remain on the upward trend.
During the 2014 selling season, a total of 106 455 farmers sold tobacco at the auction floors.
Many farmers have been shifting to tobacco due to the favorable prices.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s major agricultural exports, accounting for 10, 7 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
Export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include Belgium, United Arab Emirates, China, Sudan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Montenegro and Russia.
Experts have however called for local value addition of tobacco arguing that revenue would increase by tenfold. - New Ziana.