Zimbabwean tobacco growers have planted 21 percent more hectares for the upcoming crop season than they did last year, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, reports The Herald.
The total planted area increased to 19,256 ha from 15,868 ha in 2022. Irrigated area increased 12 percent to 16,962 ha, and dryland increased 232 percent to 2,294 ha.
Farmers increased dryland area cultivation as a precaution for expected harsh weather conditions forecast for the second part of the rainfall season in 2024.
Tobacco export value increased to $934.17 million in the 2022–2023 selling season, up from $717.178 million during the previous year. Tobacco exports increased 23 percent in volume to 180.54 million kg.
The average price increased by 6 percent to $5.17 per kilogram.
The number of registered growers decreased by 24 percent. To date, 102,098 growers are listed for the 2023–2024 season compared to 133,724 last year. Of the registered growers, 92 percent are contract growers.
“That is a very much appreciated reduction, which will impact on tobacco cost of production as irrigated tobacco uses raw water,” said Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association chairman George Seremwe. “We also encourage other stakeholders like the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to follow suit and reduce electricity charges as cost of irrigation is affected by power bills. The same reduction must be stretched to other inputs like chemicals, fertilizers, and this will result in more tobacco being produced profitably.”
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association CEO Rodney Ambrose stated that the change was welcome if the water price reduction was spread to other crops apart from maize. “We are seeking clarity on a number of areas in the statement, such as the mention of only irrigated maize as being the beneficiary. What about other crops?” he said.
Anxious Masuka, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, said that the move to reduce water charges by 31 percent is meant to incentivize farmers to commit more hectarage to irrigation for the 2023–2024 summer season.