Tobacco, is now the Zimbabwean second highest foreign currency earner producing an amount that is sufficient to import fuel for the country for a whole year.A clear testimony of how the industry is progressing
Tinashe Chigumbo (41), a farmer based in Rusape testified how tobacco farming is an industry that many should consider. Having been motivated by what his neighbours and friends were earning through tobacco farming, Chigumbo decided to try his luck by leaving his job and find a place in the tobacco industry.
After farming tobacco for a while and realising good proceeds, Chigumbo found it noble to leave his employment and become a full time farmer as he saw greater prospects in tobacco farming. Despite Chigumbo having no formal training in agriculture, he crossed his fingers and believed that his decision would not spell disaster.
“I decided to work in the fields as I noticed that I can do far much better than working for $4 000-$5 000 per year in the name of formal employment, a figure I can easily surpass with one crop in a season,” he said wearing a smile.
“I started off with help from friends and agricultural extension officers in the community and as time progressed I gradually improved. Had it not been for the information I received, I would not have been where I am today.
“I started with only half a hectare as I did not have proper knowledge on how to monitor the crop but with the help from others I increased to a hectare which is producing over 20 bales of good quality tobacco that fetch around $470 per kg,” he said.
Since 2008, the year he ventured into the tobacco industry, Chigumbo testified that besides earning a sound income, tobacco farming has come with a lot of infrastructural development at his farm.
“It is through this business that my dream has come true, I now have a decent home, cattle, farming equipment, something that was a pie in the sky when I was in formal employment,” said Chigumbo.
Chigumbo is one of many tobacco growers who can testify how tobacco has impacted their lives. Hazel Kashiri (30) from Murambinda Irrigation in Buhera started growing tobacco last season and the returns made her want to stay in the tobacco farming business.
“With 23 bales last season I managed to buy a T35 truck and water pipes.
“It was a pleasant surprise as I was venturing into tobacco farming for the very first time,” she said.
Kashiri said that this year she expects much more as her crop is better than last season’s.
“This year I am expecting to bring more than 2 000 kg of better quality leaf to the market,” said Kashiri.
Kashiri also grows peas and beans for the Mbare Musika Market.
“I am into selling business as well, I grow peas and beans and now that I am into tobacco I will also be selling clothes during the off season so that I keep generating money,” said Kashiri.
“I am not planning to leave the tobacco industry anytime soon but to invest in it,” said Kashiri.
Kashiri urged first time growers to use their own grower numbers so as not to be taken advantage of by seasoned growers who charge for using their grower number and do not remit the 5 percent export incentives to the rightful owners. There is a 33 percent increase in the tobacco sold after nine days of marketing compared to the same period last season with farmers benefiting $26 million dollars.
The average selling price per kilogramme is 7,23 percent higher than last season. Zimbabwe continues to boast of the second best average price in the world after the US.
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