Hail storm destroys tobacco in Hurungwe

By Rutendo Chigiya

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KAROI -TOBACCO farmers in Mauya and Hore areas of Hurungwe District are counting
their losses after a hail storm destroyed their crop last week.
Fortunately the farmers had insured their crop and are banking on recouping their losses from
the insurance companies, while those uninsured will be in trouble as most of them are
contract farmers for the various tobacco companies and need to pay back money for the
inputs provided, as agreed in their contracts.
Five farmers contracted by Niche Tobacco Company (NTC) and others from other tobacco
companies were dealt a heavy blow by the hail storm that pounded the area on January 6 to 7
resulting in extensive damage to their plants.
NTC Karoi East Area Manager, Itayi Muteve, said in an interview that their farmers were
insured.
“The insurance company can assess then record the percentage of the damage, after the
tobacco sales floor they will work with the average price and then pay back the farmer,” said
Muteve.
Muteve encouraged those that were affected to do ratooning, and discouraged the farmers
from replanting since the tobacco planting period has since passed.
Raymond Kasiya, an NTC Agronomist covering the area with the affected farms, said that the
farmers were appealing to the company to deal kindly with them when they sell their tobacco.
Tobacco farmer, Coaster Mukombwe, whose crop was destroyed by the hail storm, said that
this came as a shock, and he no longer had hope that he would have reasonable returns after
selling his tobacco.
He urged farmers to get their crops insured.
“Tobacco is one of the highest paying cash crops; I was really affected by the incident but
who am I to control nature? I was hoping that this season tobacco was going to pay me well
because I had developments that I planned to do within my home but however because of the
hail storm all plans are in vain,” said Mukombwe.
An average of 10 hectares for the five farms contracted by NTC had around 150 000 tobacco
plants which were reduced by the hail storm to almost half the number.
Hurungwe District is the highest tobacco producing district in the province and most of the
farmers are contract farmers under various companies.

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