Tobacco farmers earn nearly US$570 million (File Picture)

Precious Manomano Herald Reporter

 

Tobacco farmers grossed US$568,9 million from the sale of 187 million kilograms of tobacco in the 2022 marketing season compared to 196 million kilogrammes worth US$546,1m they earned over the same period last year, statistics released by the industry regulator show.

 

According to statistics from Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), prices at the auction floors continued to be firm because of low volumes at an average price of US $3,04.

 

This was attributed to erratic rainfall patterns which affected production of the crop.

 

TIMB spokesperson Mrs Chelesani Sarwe said the marketing season progressed fairly following the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations.

 

The tobacco sector continued to grapple with side marketing but the gazetting of a statutory instrument helped to deal with the problem.

 

“The season had its fair share of challenges, but we managed to pull through. The Zimbabwe flavour tobacco was on high demand and average prices offered were firmer this season,” Mrs Sarwe said.

 

“With the gazetting of the SI 77 of 2022 specific to tobacco side marketing, the TIMB Inspectorate Department was able to bring to book growers and companies that were side marketing. Repeated offenders were made to pay administrative penalties to TIMB and this went a long way in deterring this problem.”

 

The future of the tobacco industry, she said, lay in improving the viability of growers, compliance to regulations and sustainable tobacco production including good agricultural labour practice.

 

Zimbabwe was aiming to create a US$5 billion tobacco industry by 2025.

 

Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Edward Dune said erratic rainfall compromised the quality of leaf.

 

He said farmers should practise crop rotation to improve production and ensure viability.

 

“From the onset tobacco was heavily affected by climatic conditions and this seriously compromised the leaf quality. We advise farmers to take up horticulture and diversify their operations,” he said.

 

He also warned farmers to buy inputs from reputable dealers to avoid buying fake drugs and seeds that were being peddled on the market.

 

Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually.

 

Zimbabwe is one of the largest producers of the golden leaf in Africa and the world’s fourth largest producer after China, Brazil and the United States of America.

 

The growing of the crop is a major source of livelihoods for thousands of people.

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