Tobacco growers increase by 43pc

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Kuda Mhundwa

HARARE – Tobacco production is expected to increase during the 2018 /19 season with the number of tobacco growers increasing by 47 percent on last year.

Recent statistics from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that 124 220 farmers have so far registered for the 2018/19 farming season from 84 688 growers who had registered during the same period last year.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the rise grower registration indicated that there could be an increase in production of the crop next season.

“Farmers are generally happy with prices which were offered this year which is a positive indication. Growers were excited with the 12, 5 export incentive which was introduced by Government, TIMB has also come in to finance production and this in a way has seen farmers respond positively,” said Chabikwa

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is on record saying the increase in export incentive from 5 percent to 12,5 percent was targeted at boosting production for the 2018 farming season.

Likewise, the number of new growers has also risen by 24 percent to 30 013 from 24 264 who had registered in the 2017/18 farming season.

Seed sales have also improved by 6 percent to 922 853 from 873 675 recorded in the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, tobacco exports have raked in $357 million from 85 million kgs sold, a decline from $420 million earned during the same period last year.

Zimbabwe is the world’s fourth largest tobacco producer of flu cured tobacco.

At peak, Zimbabwe produced 236 million kg in 1999 when government embarked on land reform to redistribute the finite resource from a few white farmers to the black majority.

During the period under review, about 216 million kgs worth $639 million were sold through the contract system.

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