By Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture
THE year 2018 will be remembered in the history of the country for attaining the highest tobacco production levels ever since the growing of the golden leaf began.
There were also no grain imports as the country had enough grain in stock.
In 2018, farmers continued to access inputs under the Government programmes, Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
Farmers were however, affected by the high costs of inputs as retailers increased prices of seed and fertilisers.
Government had to intervene forcing manufacturers to reduce prices.
Some farmers still feel the prices are still high and unviable prompting others, especially those who grow export crops, to get their payments in foreign currency so they remain in business and also manage to buy machinery.
The forecast of an El Nino during the 2018/19 season was not so welcome and Government and responsible authorities are already working on mitigation measures.
The delays in the rain and increase in the prices of the input costs did not dampen the farmers’ spirits as they have continued to farm.
The tobacco sector did well despite the resurgence of the Potato Virus (PVY). The sector registered 252 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco which is the highest in the history of the country.
The previous record was 237 million kg, which was achieved in 2000.
The increase in tobacco production has been attributed to high prices and an organised market, availability of funding through contractors and Government.
Tobacco has earned a strategic position in the economy because of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and foreign currency earnings.
Zimbabwe has become the major flue-cured tobacco producer in Africa and occupies fifth position in the world as many communal farmers joined the lucrative farming sector following the land reform programme.
There has also been an increase in the registrations of farmers growing the golden leaf.
According to latest Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board statistics, by December 21, 167 100 farmers had registered to grow tobacco in the 2018-19 season, marking a 48 percent increase from the 112 546 who had registered during the correspondence period last season. Of the 167 100 registered farmers, 40 414 were registering for the first time.
Source : The Herald