Friday, November 30, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) New farmers swell tobacco ranks

New farmers swell tobacco ranks
25/11/2012 00:00:00
by Roman Moyo

THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says it has registered more than 62,000 tobacco growers up from the 25,000 in the last season. TIMB Chief Executive Officer Andrew Matibiri said with grower numbers increasing, the focus was on now on improving the quality of the crop. At least 80 percent of the registered growers are small scale farmers.

“Now that the number of farmers has increased we wish that farmer organisations really work with the growers and that includes us to ensure that farmers do not concentrate on the quantity of the crop but the quality,” said Matibiri.

Matibiri said so far, more than 19,000 hectares of land has been put under tobacco. Prices for the crop in the last season closed 34,2 percent firmer, averaging US$3,69 per kg compared to US$2,75 last year.

The Medium-Term Plan (MTP) had forecasted tobacco output at 180 million kg this year, which could not be achieved due to limited funding among other constraints.

Still, overall sales volumes for the season reached 144million kgs.

Tobacco production has continued to record steady recovery over the years but officials say the industry needs US$200 million in fresh capital to return to peak production levels of 237 million kg recorded in 2000.

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