Tobacco hectarage declines

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Harare (New Ziana) -Tobacco farmers put just over 105 000 hectares of land under tobacco this cropping season, a drop from 106 494 last year, raising fears that yields will also go down, the industry regulator said on Thursday.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) spokesperson Chelesani Moyo attributed the drop to tighter vetting, registration and grower number renewal processes.
“For the 2021/22 tobacco cropping season, we have 105 613 hectares of tobacco whereas same time last year we had 106 494 hectares,” she said.
“Looking ahead to the rebranding of the TIMB, we have improved our processes and systems. The vetting and verification processes for farmer registration and grower number renewal are (now) tighter.
“Many farmers were tried and fell short, that is why we have a slight decline in hectarage. We aim at having legitimate farmers who grow tobacco in quality ranges 1-3 by 2025,” she said.
According to the TIMB, by December 31 last year, more than 121 000 farmers had registered to grow tobacco during the 2021/22 season, a decrease from the 144 462 growers who had signed up during the same period last year.
Moyo said a crop assessment was underway to determine the state of the crop to assist in establishing dates for the opening of this year’s marketing season.
“The TIMB and Agritex started the 2022 tobacco crop assessment exercise in all tobacco growing regions to determine the expected national yield and production. The three-week crop assessment will collate statistics on the current state of the crop in all tobacco growing regions around Zimbabwe,” she said.
Climate change has caused extreme hot weather and severe hailstorms that are affecting this year’s tobacco crop, raising fears that the season could be under threat.
But Moyo said:”This exercise will give us information as to how much tobacco was affected by hailstorms this cropping season and to what extent. The same assessment will help us determine if and to what extent the crop has been affected by “a bad rainy season.”
Zimbabwe sold 186.6 million kg of tobacco valued at $515.9 million during the 2021 marketing season, a 16.8 percent jump in volume and 31 percent in value over the 2020 sales.
New Ziana

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