Farmers in Mashonaland East have started transplanting irrigated tobacco, with the province targeting 20 000 hectares.
This was said by provincial Agricultural Extension Services officer Mr Leonard Munamati.
Farmers, he said, had so far established seedbeds that could cover 12 000 hectares.
“Farmers started planting irrigated tobacco on September 1 and seedlings that have been transplanted so far are able to cover 12 000 hectares. We expect to get the remaining 8 000 hectares from farmers, who get their seedlings from the Tobacco Research Board (TRB),” he said.
Mr Munamati said the biggest challenge was unavailability of water due to the dry spell.
He encouraged farmers to comply with the tobacco regulations like destroying stalks and regrowth.
“Currently we are making a follow up to find out if farmers are complying with the tobacco regulations.
“We want to ensure that farmers have destroyed stalks and regrowth by May 15, to protect the plants from Potato Virus Y (PVY),” said Mr Munamati.
Farmers are encouraged to apply aphicides from the start. Only good management and stalk destruction will help in preventing the virus. Early and complete destruction of tobacco stalks is effective in reducing carry-over of diseases and pests.
Growers are also encouraged to observe the planting dates, transplanting and destruction of seedbeds.
The earliest date for sowing seed is June 1, while the earliest date for transplanting is September 1. All seedbeds are expected to have been destroyed by December 31 every year.
The company is targeting 17 000 small-scale and commercial tobacco farmers from the provinces.