Zim posts record tobacco output

06 Aug, 2023 - 00:08 0 Views
Zim posts record tobacco output Dr Marapira

The Sunday Mail

Theseus Shambare

THE curtain came down on the 2023 tobacco marketing season last Monday, with farmers delivering a record 294 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf, statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show.

The 294 million kg output breaks the previous record of 261 million kg that was set in 2019.

It is also just 2 percent shy of the 300 million kg target that has been projected for 2025.

The 2023 output surpassed the year’s revised target by 4 million kg, further highlighting the success of the country’s agrarian reforms.

TIMB said mop-up sales will be conducted on August 30.

Statistics from TIMB show that the country’s tobacco farmers delivered 294 033 605kg of the cash crop, to the tune of US$890,9 million.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira recently said Government’s agrarian reforms, combined with the hard work of farmers, are paying off.

“According to our Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, we were aiming to reach 300 million kg in 2025.

“However, with the overwhelming efforts from our farmers, combined with Government’s reforms, it seems we are going to achieve it earlier.”

Deputy Minister Marapira also credited the milestone to robust research being undertaken by the country’s sole tobacco seed producer, Kutsaga (formerly the Tobacco Research Board).

“We would like to recognise the role being played by Kutsaga in the production of high-yield and quality tobacco varieties.

“At this point, I want to challenge Kutsaga to produce varieties with 6 000kg to 8 000kg per hectare production capacity, while maintaining the same quality of already existing genetics,” he said.

Kutsaga board chairperson Mr Stanley Mutepfa said, annually, about 100 research trials are undertaken in the broad areas of plant breeding, plant health, pesticide evaluation and agronomy, for yield improvement.

“Results from these trials are then packaged into practical information on tobacco management, which is then transmitted to growers through training, technical guides and other mediums,” he                  said.

The yield potential of Kutsaga varieties has increased from 800kg per hectare in the 1950s, to the current 5 000kg per hectare.

Agronomist Mr Lazarus Gatawa said small-scale farmers are proving to be the backbone of the agriculture sector.

“They (small-scale farmers) are producing a minimum of 80 percent of the total tobacco output in Zimbabwe.

“This is because of the deliberate liberalisation of the tobacco sector by Government, which has allowed private investors to support production through contract farming,” said Mr Gatawa.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) national treasurer Mr Bright Bvukumbwe acknowledged the efficacy of Government’s support programmes.

“We thank Government for its policies that are bringing about positive results,” he said.

“Before land was redistributed, indigenous Zimbabweans could not demonstrate their capacity and passion for farming.

“If you go down history, the tobacco industry started to grow after indigenous farmers got land.

“More so, with the Second Republic’s policies, records are being broken and I believe the set targets will be surpassed before the 2025 deadline.”

Last year, sales of the golden leaf peaked at US$650 million, up from US$589 million previously.

Under the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, Government is seeking to grow the tobacco sector into a US$5 billion industry.

 X (formerly Twitter): @TheseusShambare


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