Yeukai Karengezeka and Mary Muradzikwa
The tobacco sector has applauded and appreciated growers for producing a record 250 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf last season.
Zimbabwe, which is the third major producer of flue-cured tobacco in the world, surpassed its previous all-time record of 237 million kilogrammes that was achieved in 2000.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), in conjunction with other stakeholders in the tobacco industry, yesterday rewarded outstanding smallholder farmers at the Harare Agricultural Show with farming implements such as tractors, motorbikes, fertilisers, wheelbarrows and cash prizes, among other things.
Officiating at the prize-giving ceremony at the Exhibition Park yesterday, Ethical Leaf Tobacco chief executive Mr David Machingaidze congratulated the farmers for a job well done.
“I congratulate our valued farmers and the industry for producing an all-time record crop of more than 250 million kilogrammes,” he said.
“The involvement of key tobacco institutions in tobacco and the efforts that you the farmers are putting in making a world class leaf is a tremendous step in safeguarding the golden leaf’s relevance in Zimbabwe.”
Mr Machingaidze urged farmers to continuously upgrade their knowledge and skills in tobacco production.
“I urge you to continuously work on improving your production and productivity to keep abreast with both the local and international competitors,” he said.
“I plead with you to continue to get knowledge from each other through sharing information and attending training.”
Mr Machingaidze applauded the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS), through the Harare Agricultural Show, for revitalising the Tobacco Section Committee that had been temporarily suspended in 1997.
This year’s best tobacco grower is 53-year-old Mashonaland Central farmer Mrs Tracy Shani.
She also won the first prize last year.
Mrs Shani received a tractor, $1 000, inputs, air tickets to a local destination and a certificate and trophy.
She said she was humbled by winning the competition for the second time.
“It shows that my efforts are being recognised,” she said.
“I am now going to look for my own farm since I was renting. The tractor will assist me a lot in land preparations.”
Last year, there were nine competitors under the tobacco sector and the number increased to 19 this year.
One of the judges, Mr Steward Chanyika, said they were looking at the quality, uniformity and handling of the crop.