Planting of the 2022/23 irrigated tobacco crop starts today and farmers have already procured seed enough to cover more than 155 000 hectares compared to 86 782 hectares last year.
The bulk of the rain-fed tobacco crop will be planted late October to early December depending on the region in which the farmer is located.
September 1 is the earliest legislative date for transplanting tobacco from the seedbed to the field.
Most irrigated tobacco farmers are contracted growers and get their inputs timely.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has already registered 80 314 farmers, 814 of which are new growers compared to 67 000 growers registered last year.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president (ZCFU) Dr Shadreck Makombe confirmed that the tobacco season has started with farmers busy planting the irrigated tobacco and highlighted that most farmers doing irrigated crop had secured their inputs.
“Farmers will be busy today, but those waiting for the rains are managing their seedbeds and nurseries, waiting for the onset of the rains to transplant.
“Normally, farmers with irrigation are contracted and they get inputs timely even though they may be expensive. The challenge is with some smallholder farmers who rely on self-funding.
“Contract growers do not have problems because they get inputs. There will be a lot of activity in most tobacco growing areas as farmers are transplanting their crop. To us the season is a good one considering that meteorology department has assured us of good rainfalls,” said Dr Makombe.
Dr Makombe added that good agronomist practices should be practised by all farmers to ensure that there is an improvement in productivity adding that expert advice is crucial for any farmer to succeed.
He said the number of tobacco growers has increased and this showed commitment and enthusiasm that farmers will work hard this season to enhance the productivity.
As the country emphasises the need to up agricultural production, farmers should follow correct procedures to ensure improved yields.
Statistics from Tobacco Industry and Maketing Board (TIMB) last week farmers have sold 202 million kg of tobacco valued at US$600 million compared to 206 million kg sold at US$580 million in the same period last year.
Favourable payment modalities introduced this year motivated most farmers to embark in tobacco farming.
They were given 75 percent of their total sales in United States dollars and the remainder was paid in Zimbabwe dollars at prevailing interbank exchange rate.
Tobacco farmers who were interviewed by The Herald could not hide their excitement adding that they will generate more foreign currency.
“We are very happy that we are getting payments in foreign currency. We appreciate this and next year there is probability that more farmers will join tobacco farming. Foreign currency motivates farmers a lot. No inflation can affect this foreign currency so this is the best season for us as farmers. The local currency should match the prevailing rates of that time,” said Mrs Monica Masamvu of Banket.
Another farmer Mr Taurai Marecha from Makonde said getting a US dollar component was an incentive for him to continue growing tobacco.
“If rains are reliable, nothing can stop us to produce more tonnes. Everything is in order right now. I expect a good harvest if we get guidance from our agronomists.
“Let’s work hard so that we generate more foreign currency.
Mrs Easther Mugugu of Mhangura said she was elated by her recent payment of her tobacco in local and foreign currency, said she was hoping to put a bigger portion of her farm under the crop this coming season.