MORE than 75,000 farmers have registered for the 2015 tobacco farming season, compared to 71,579 who had registered during the same period last year.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate Matabeleland region, which is slowly becoming a tobacco growing region, has so far recorded 11 farmers who have shown interest in growing the crop in the next season.
Last year, 10 growers from Matabeleland ventured into tobacco farming.
“To date, about 75,580 growers have registered for the 2015 season as compared to about 71,579 who had registered by the same period last year,” said TIMB in a report compiled early this month.
At present, the golden leaf is grown in seven regions namely, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Midlands and Matabeleland.
Mashonaland West has the highest number of growers who have registered for the next farming season, recording 24,455 while Mashonaland Central is second with 22,016 growers. Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces have 12,913 and 12,488 growers respectively, while Midlands and Masvingo have 382 and 315 growers.
Meanwhile, 85,4 million kilogrammes have, since the beginning of the year, been exported to different parts of the world, earning the country $448,9 million, at an average price of $5,26 a kg.
During the same period last year, about 76,4 million kilogrammes valued at $375 million were exported at an average price of $4,91 a kg.
Belgium is the leading importer of flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe, spending $100,5 million on 21,1 million kilogrammes at an average price of $4,77 a kg.
China, the traditional buyer of Zimbabwe tobacco, was on second position, importing 21 million kilogrammes valued at $170 million at an average price of $807 per kg.
South Africa imported 10,8 million kilogrammes earning the country $42,7 million while United Arab Emirates imported 8,4 million kilogrammes valued at $25,9 million. Russia had the lowest volume of 2,9 million kilogrammes, earning the country $10,5 million.
The tobacco sector has become one of the major sources of revenue since the adoption of the multi-currency system in February 2009.