This year’s tobacco has been revised slightly upwards at 85 million kgs. Though large-scale commercial farmers have reduced the hectarage under tobacco from 55 547 ha. to 21 500 ha. and small holder farmers have increased theirs from 14 000 ha. to 25 000 ha. large-scale farmers will still produce almost 75 percent of the tobacco.
They are expected to produce 63 million kgs while small holders will only produce 22 million kgs. The average yield for large-scale farmers is 3 300 kgs per hectare on irrigated land and 2 700 kgs on dryland while that for small holders is only 880 kgs per hectare.
But production by small holders is improving because last year it was 857 kgs per hectare. Tobacco farmers are, however concerned about the shortage of coal as this could seriously affect curing.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association says all districts have reported that the coal situation is critical. The National Railways of Zimbabwe is also to blame as it is not able to deliver.
The ZTA says the only option now left to growers is to use very expensive road haulage or resort to using wood for curing.
The ZTA also reports that 18 768 tonnes of flue cured tobacco were exported in January. Some 53 165 tonnes of the 2002 crop still remain with total stocks still to be exported at 100 731 tonnes.