Kudakwashe Mhundwa Business Reporter
TOBACCO production is expected to increase during the 2017 /18 season with seed sales registering an increase of 309 percent on last year.
Tobacco Industry Marketing Board statistics show that farmers have bought 14 575 grammes of tobacco seed. This is an increase of 309 percent from the 3 565 grammes that were bought by farmers during the corresponding period last year.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa said the rise in seed sales indicated that there could be an increase in production of the crop next season.
“Farmers are finding it viable to grow tobacco which is a positive indication. However, we should make sure farmers remain motivated to grow the crop.
“It is unfortunate that farmers are experiencing cash challenges this season and spending days at the floors. We should not dampen farmers’ spirits,” he said
Meanwhile, contract floors have contributed 80 percent of the flue cured tobacco that has been sold since the opening of the 2017 marketing season. Latest statistics from the TIMB show that 40 966 growers have sold their crop through the contract system while 13 705 growers have sold through the auction floors.
Most farmers are engaged in contract farming because of the timely availability of inputs and favourable prices on the market. The highest price at the contract sales since the opening of the season is $6 per kg while the price has remained at $4,99 per kg at the auction floors. TIMB statistics also show that Zimbabwe exported 164,5 million kg of tobacco valued at $933,9 million throughout 2016.
An increase of 88 percent was also registered in new grower registrations. This season there are 18 188 new growers this year compared to 9 674 last year in 2016.
“So far total registration stands at 93 698 farmers, a 23 percent increase compared to previous season, while a total of 13 705 growers have sold through the auction system and 40 966 growers through the contract system,” said TIMB.