Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe are positive about this year’s marketing season that was officially opened on Wednesday will surpass the last year’s figures.
This year’s saw an increase in price of tobacco per Kg retailing at 4.30 U.S. dollars from 4 dollars last year.
According to estimates, about 200 million kg of tobacco will be sold this season, as compared to 180 million kg valued at 452 million dollars that were sold last year.
Tobacco Farmers from different parts of the country especially in Harare will mark the start of tobacco sales season in a market hall despite strict health restrictions.
Tobacco production in Zimbabwe is expected to grow by nearly 9% this year, according to the Tobacco regulatory authority.
“Our tobacco harvest was very good this season and we expect good profit this year and I can see good prices as well. The highest I saw was US$4.30 and the lowest was US$2 because it was a bit wet”, tobacco farmer, Steady Zvavamw said.
Crop hectare went up by 6.84 percent from 117,000 hectares in 2019/2020 season to 125,000 hectares this year.
Despite rife concerns over crop attack by disease and impact of waterlogging in some areas, The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says it expects better quality in this year’s sell.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board Chairman Patrick Devenish In an interview with Xinhua on Thursday, said that despite the pandemic, all measures are already in place to ensure the smooth flow of the season.
“A large percentage of the tobacco industry have now been vaccinated, and we will continue vaccinating all those people who want to be vaccinated,” he said.
“To ensure the safety of farmers and staff, the government designated the tobacco industry staff as frontline workers to get a priority for vaccination ahead of the opening of the marketing season,” he said.
“As far as the crop is concerned, we had a very good rainy season, so we have got a nice soft good quality crop which we expect to sell well,” said Devenish.
On his part Zimbabwe’s Minister of Agriculture Anxious Masuka said the tobacco farming season has been a success, saying that the government had developed a value addition transformation strategy that will create better trading environment for farmers and industry at large enhancing more output.
“This tobacco value chain transformation strategy enables the intensification of tobacco production by enhancing transparency and fair tobacco marketing, reform, restructuring and rebuilding of existing institutions in order to optimize tobacco value chain financing,” he said.
Tobacco farmers who spoke to the media expressed their excitement and optimism of surpassing the last year’s sales.
“Considering the kick-starting, I can say there is a green light there, farmers are going to perform very well,” he told Xinhua.
However, other farmers said their crops were affected by the continual moist conditions owing to too much rainfall received in other parts of the country.
“This year too much rainfall affected many farmers. Crops developed a disease and it really affected our yields,” she said.
Production of tobacco in Zimbabwe is largely funded through private contractors and loans, and the sector remains a mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Tobacco is the southern African country’s second foreign currency earner after gold, with China and South Africa being the major buyers of the golden leaf.
Over the years, tobacco production in Zimbabwe has steadily gone up driven by increased support mainly from the private sector and China, who have contracted tobacco farmers to produce the crop.