Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE number of registered tobacco growers for the 2021/22 summer cropping season has jumped to 67 025 from 4 056 during the same period last year
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that Mashonaland West province had the highest number of registered growers for the season so far at 24 781 compared to 1 285 in the same period last year.
The growers are in communal, A1 and small-scale commercial sub-sectors.
On second spot was Mashonaland Central with 23 756 registered growers up from 1 623 in the comparable period last year.
As at September 1, 2021 Manicaland province had recorded 10 063 from 604 during the corresponding period in 2020 while Mashonaland East registered 8 297 up from 526 last year.
Midlands had 94 registered growers compared to nine in the corresponding period last year while Masvingo recorded 32 and nine during the same period last year.
Matabeleland region, which is slowly venturing into tobacco farming has so far registered two growers.
The field area under seedbed across the country was 63 percent up to 86 782 hectares compared to 53 118ha during the corresponding period last year.
The 2021 tobacco marketing season officially closed on July 14, with deliveries surpassing this year’s initial projection of 200 million kilogrammes as 209,5 million kg valued at US$585,8 million have so far been delivered.
Stakeholders in the tobacco sector have revised the 2021 tobacco output to 210 million kg with TIMB optimistic that the deliveries can again surpass that figure.
This year’s average price was US$2,80 a kg compared to US$2,50 a kg during the corresponding period last year. The bulk of the crop was this season sold through contract floors.
This prompted the Government to create a Tobacco Production Localisation Revolving Fund with an initial injection of US$60 million from the Treasury to support growers in the upcoming farming season. It is believed that the seed money would fund production of 60 million kg of tobacco during the 2021-22 season.
Auction floors deal with less than 6,5 percent of the crop while contract floors receive almost 93,5 percent. In the 2020-21 season, farmers planted 125 176ha of tobacco reflecting an increase from the 117 976ha in the 2019-20 season. — @okazunga