AgricultureBUSINESS

The 2021/2022 Irrigated tobacco increased by a margin of 32%

Chen Williams

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has reviewed that more than 20 900 hectares have been put under tobacco, as planting exceeded last year’s period by nearly 32%.

Most small holder farmers who do not have the capacity to irrigate are still waiting for effective rains, whilst the chunk of the tobacco planted so far is under contract.

According to Agritex acting director Mr Stancilae Tapererwa, 20 911 hectares were planted by October 29 as compared to the 15 854 hectares of the same period last year and 14 584ha of the 20 911 hectares were put under irrigation while the remaining hectares were under dry land.

As highlighted by some farmers, tobacco planting was progressing especially for the contracted crop as farmers were guaranteed all inputs.

Mr Paul Zakariya the Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, stated that irrigated planting of tobacco was moving in a favourable direction while dry land planting is projected to increase as expected rains soon come.

“Some work has started, some farmers who do dry land tobacco are waiting for effective rains for them to start planting. The tobacco that has been planted so far is largely being contracted,” he said.

Mr Zakariya further clarified how some farmers need working capital as prices of inputs rose and hence leading to the rise of production cost. 

“However, some farmers may be in need of working capital. Prices of inputs have also gone up and it is pushing production cost up.

“Even if a farmer wants to borrow, the cost of the money is high and this is not good for agriculture,” he added.

As stated by Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe, even though there are some farmers who have abandoned tobacco due to frustrations, there are those who are newly coming on board.

According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TMB), there are 298 new growers this season as compared to 1 624 the same period last year.

The government is said to be working on boosting tobacco production particularly among smallholder farmers and a lot needs to be done in the industry to uplift smallholder farmers.

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