Tobacco planting preparations begin
Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
Tobacco farmers are now preparing land to plant their irrigated tobacco crop early next month.
The bulk of the rain fed tobacco crop will be planted starting in 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.
In preparation for this date, farmers are expected to have destroyed tobacco stalks and re-growths which are hosts for pests and agents for the carryover of diseases on or before May 15.
“A critical success factor that should be achieved before transplanting tobacco plants is proper land preparation, a process which entails ploughing, disking and ridging,” said Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Edward Dune.
“Preparations are underway and most farmers are rigging in preparation to plant the irrigated crop next month.”
Next month, he said, farmers will start transplanting tobacco from the seedbed to the field.
“Farmers are encouraged to transplant ideal seedlings which would have been hardened in the seedbed to prepare them for the anticipated harsh field conditions.
“Irrigated tobacco is on a hardened stage right now and small scale tobacco is at a slipping stage,” he said.
The ZFU official expressed concern over the decline in the number of registered tobacco growers for the 2022 – 2023 season when compared to the previous season.
“So far farmers are busy preparing the land to plant tobacco next season. The major challenge on the ground is that input prices are very high hence the majority of farmers are finding it difficult to continue with tobacco farming,” Dune said.
He said there was need to address the challenges being faced by farmers to encourage them to grow tobacco.
Payment modalities should be improved so that farmers are not inconvenienced, he further said.
This season, tobacco farmers were paid three quarters of their sales proceeds in foreign currency and the remaining quarter in local currency, converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale.
This year erratic rainfall affected production of the crop.
According to statistics from Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), prices at the auction floors were firm because of low volumes at an average price of US $3,04.
Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually.
In 2022 alone, farmers pocketed more than US$620 million.
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 livelihood for thousands of people.