Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe have started preparing land to plant their irrigated tobacco crop in early September, reports The Herald.
Sept. 1 is the earliest legislative date for transplanting tobacco from the seedbed to the field. The bulk of the rain-fed crop will be planted from October to early December, depending on the region. To prevent the carryover of diseases, tobacco farmers are required to destroy tobacco stalks and regrowths, which can host pest and pathogens, by May 1 each year.
Industry representatives expressed concern about the cost of agricultural inputs this year.
“The major challenge on the ground is that input prices are very high, hence the majority of farmers are finding it difficult to continue with tobacco farming,” said Edward Dune, vice president of the Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union, urging authorities to improve the conditions of payment.
This season, tobacco farmers were paid three quarters of their proceeds in foreign currency and the balance in local currency, converted at the prevailing auction exchange rate on the day of sale.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, prices at the auction floors, at US$3.04, were firm because of low volumes. In 2022, tobacco growers pocketed more than US$620 million from their leaf sales.