The number of farmers who have registered to grow tobacco in the 2014/15 period is up nearly 10 percent to 71 000 compared to the same period last year as preparations get underway for the new season, the industry regulator has said.
Latest data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) shows that communal farmers are dominating the numbers although registration continues.
Tobacco farmers are by law required to register with the industry regulator as a measure to bring order in the growing and selling on the country’s most lucrative crop.
“To date, about 71 078 growers have registered for 2015 season as compared to about 64 784 who had registered by the same period last year,” the TIMB said in its September report.
The data shows that communal farmers at 32 903 and A1 farmers at 26 539 dominate the sector.
Farmers in the A2 and small scale commercial areas make up the remainder.
Indications from the farmers unions are that some planting of the crop, which is under irrigation, is already underway and is expected to go on till year end.
Zimbabwe in the 2013/14 season produced 215 million kilogrammes of the gold leaf worth nearly $670 million.
The crop was sold at an average price of $3.17 which is expected to go up in the coming season on the back of favourable international prices.
The TIMB noted that Belgium remained the top destination for Zimbabwe’s golden leaf in the past season.
As at September 27, the European country had imported 20 million kg of the crop valued at $100 million.
China, at 11 million kg was in second place up from fourth last season followed by South Africa which dropped to third from second place after importing 10.3 million kg.
The United Arab Emirates and Russia make up the top five importers of the leaf.
Over 50 countries import Zimbabwe’s tobacco, which is mainly used for blending purposes.- The Source