Saturday, January 12, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tobacco hectrage up 38 percent: TIMB

Tobacco hectrage up 38 percent: TIMB
12/01/2013 00:00:00
by Business Reporter

SOME 77,910 hectares of land has been put under tobacco this year, a 38 percent increase from 56,377 hectares last season, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has revealed.

TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said the increase in farm size shows farmers continue to abandon other crops for tobacco. Poor marketing, unattractive prices coupled with late payments to farmers over the years have affected crops such as cotton and maize.

"Farmers who grow rain-fed tobacco are still planting because the rains started late while those who irrigated are reaping and curing their crop," he said.

According to TIMB, more than 65,000 farmers have registered to grow and sell tobacco this season compared 34,673 last season.

Tobacco exports raked in US$771 million averaging US$5,94 per kilogramme, the highest annual average export price achieved since dollarisation.

“There is still a further 95,3 million kilogrammes of tobacco in our stocks so the earnings are set to rise even higher once everything is marketed. The exports have, however, trended down from 17 million kilogrammes in November to seven million kilogrammes in December,” Matibiri said.

“In 2011, a total of 10 million kilogrammes were exported during the same period with the seasonal exports ending with 129,7 million kilogrammes, which is 10 percent below the 2012 levels. More than 42 percent of the tobacco went to China,” Matibiri said.

This year's production is targeted at 170 million kgs.

“Already we have registered 65 199 farmers for this year’s crop compared to last year’s 34 673 farmers during the same period. We have also registered 1 225 farmers for burley tobacco while another 499 have been registered for dark air cured tobacco,” the TIMB chief added.

Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe's major agricultural exports with markets including China, UK, South Africa, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Russia.

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