Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Tobacco seed sales have declined by 86 percent, a development that could see a reduction of the crop next season, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board latest statistics have shown.
According to TIMB, farmers have bought 7 750 grammes equivalent to 1 292 hectares this season compared to 59 345 grammes equivalent to 9 900 hectares that were sold by seed companies last year.
Last season by April 22, the Zimbabwe Tobacco Seed Association had sold 5 680 grammes while the Tobacco Research Board sold 53 665 grammes.
This season, ZTSA has sold 285 grammes while TRB has sold 7 465 grammes of the seed.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said the decline in seed sales could be a result of the low prices offered by buyers last season.
He said last year tobacco prices were depressed and this resulted in a number of farmers shunning the crop.
“Generally, many farmers are failing to make meaningful profits out of tobacco. Most farmers were attracted by the favourable prices and went on to produce tobacco without adequate inputs and knowledge on production and market requirements resulting in huge losses,” he said.
Mr Zakariya said instead of abandoning producing the crop, the farmers could reduce the hectarage and produce manageable areas in terms of inputs.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said some farmers have realised they were not making profits in tobacco and made a business decision.
“Some farmers had rushed to tobacco because of the high prices that were offered by buyers. Others later realised they were not making meaningful profits and as a result are returning back to their traditional crops.
“Farmers take into consideration a number of factors before they make decisions to grow a crop. If the prices are low, farmers will be discouraged from producing the crop.
“The same situation has happened to the cotton sector where farmers are deciding to grow other crops such as groundnuts,” he said.
Tobacco farmers have been urged to consider growing small hectarages that are manageable in terms of inputs and curing facilities.