Number of tobacco farmers drops

24 Nov, 2015 - 00:11 0 Views
Number of tobacco farmers drops

The Herald

The number of farmers who have registered to grow tobacco has dropped from over 86 000 last year to slightly above 69 000 this year, statistics released by the industry regulator show.

In its latest bulletin, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said a total of 69 092 farmers have so far registered for the 2015/16 season compared to 86 992 who had registered by the same time last year.

New registrations for 2015/16 now stand 8 755, down from 16 140 last year in a similar period.

About 15 421 hectares have been put under the crop so far amid indications of more farmers shifting to irrigation to mitigate the effects of unpredictable rainfall patterns.

According to the same TIMB report, 2015 seasonal tobacco exports have increased to 125.4 million kilogrammes compared to 119.9 million kilograms in the corresponding period the prior year.

Tobacco has become Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earner, with close to 92 000 farmers growing the crop as at the 2014/15 season, a number significantly higher than 52 000 farmers three years ago.

Seasonal tobacco sales for 2015 were 198, 7 million kg compared to 216, 1 million kg in 2014.

Many farmers have abandoned traditional crops like maize and cotton in preference of tobacco, but lack of expertise and unsuitable conditions have resulted in a number of them producing a poor crop, analysts have said.

Last season, most tobacco growers complained about low prices while the merchants argued that the quality of the crop was poor. – New Ziana.

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