THE Tobacco Research Board (TRB) says it anticipates a massive increase in tobacco hectarage this year as new farmers were now venturing into the production of the golden leaf.
TRB general manager yesterday Dahlia Garwe told NewsDay yesterday that they had registered a sharp rise in demand for tobacco seed since the beginning of this month.
“Seed sales have increased by 1,9% to 772 173kg at beginning of August, which was slightly higher than that of last year (757 680kg). This was mainly due to an increase in the number of new farmers taking up tobacco,” she said.
“Sales trend are good so far, expect growers from the warmer areas such as Mt Darwin and Karoi to start buying now. Sales are open until mid-September. We are sure sales will surpass last year because of the new growers coming on board and renewed interest in tobacco as prices were generally good this season.”
Garwe urged farmers to take up varieties which best suit their areas.
“Growers should buy varieties suitable for their area. A slow-growing variety in a cool area like Marondera needs to be planted on September 1, otherwise it will reach maturity late. This will lead to late stalk destruction and then all the PVY and other disease problems we have talked about,” she said.
Zimbabwe exports flue-cured tobacco to over 70 countries in the world, including China, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Brazil, India, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Jordan and the United Kingdom.
Tobacco is ranked as one of the country’s major foreign currency earners and government, through the central bank, has introduced an export incentive facility to increase output of the golden leaf.