Tobacco hectarage declines

03 Nov, 2015 - 00:11 0 Views

The Herald

Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

At least 15 421 hectares of tobacco have been planted across the country amid indications of more farmers shifting to irrigation to mitigate the effects unpredictable rainfall patterns, statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board have revealed.

TIMB public relations manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo said the hectarage under tobacco had slightly declined from the 15 784 hectares planted during the same period last year to 15 421 hectares this season.

There has been an increase in the area put under irrigation from 13 202 hectares during the same period last year to 14 043 hectares this season.

Last season 2 582 hectares had been put under dryland compared to 1 378 hectares this season.

The statistics also show a decline in the area planted to tobacco in some provinces and an increase in others. Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East have recorded a decline in hectarage while Mashonaland Central and Midlands have registered an increase. “So far, 4 246 hectares have been planted in Mashonaland West compared to 5 288ha during the corresponding period last year. Mashonaland East recorded a decline from 5 977 hectares last season to 5453 hectares this season,” he said.

Other provinces also recorded increases in the area under tobacco. Mashonaland Central recorded an increase from last season’s 2 776 hectares to 3 315 hectares, Manicaland from 1 775 hectares to 2 240 hectares this season. Midlands registered an increase from 154 hectares to 167 hectares this season. Mr Moyo said an increase in the area under irrigation showed that most farmers were investing their earnings in the development of irrigation infrastructure.

“Climate change has affected farming activities and farmers can no longer rely on rain-fed agriculture. “Farmers have slowly shifted to irrigation and this means an improvement in the quality of the crop,” he said. He said some farmers have pulled out of tobacco production because they did not perform well in the past seasons.

“Some farmers have also reduced hectarage so that they grow an area they can manage in terms of inputs and agronomic practices,” he said. Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said some farmers were no longer willing to produce tobacco after getting low prices last season. He said the low prices were a result of the poor quality of the crop and lack of market information.

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