At least 66 554 hectares of land had been put under tobacco as at the end of last week as planting of the golden leaf continues throughout the country following the onset of the rains, the industry regulator has said.The area is an increase from at least 56 623 hectares that had been planted during the comparable period last year.
Of the 66 554 hectares, at least 51 998 hectares were under dry land tobacco while the remainder was an irrigated crop.
According to statistics that the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) released, at least 80 327 farmers have so far registered to grow tobacco during the 2016 /17 cropping season, a 14 percent increase from 70 161 recorded at the same time last year.
Of the total number of registered growers, 38 217 were communal farmers.
Since the country started using multiple foreign currencies in 2009, the tobacco industry has been one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown of the past decade due to favourable prices and organised marketing.
Many farmers have been abandoning other cash crops such as cotton for tobacco due to the favourable prices.
Tobacco is the single largest export commodity for Zimbabwe, ahead of platinum and gold.
As at December 23, at least 163,5 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth $926,3 million had been exported at an average price of $5,67 per kilogramme.
Zimbabwe’s tobacco is exported to countries like China, South Africa, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia among others. — New Ziana.