BY JULIA NDLELA
TOBACCO production is expected to drop about 20% from last year’s production levels due to erratic rains this current agricultural season, industry authorities have warned.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced 202.2 million kilograms of gold leaf worth $567 million, but projections indicate a decline in production.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) director Casper Mlambo said the season had been difficult due to a long dry spell and erratic rains.
“Production could be the same as last season or drop by 20%. Dry start to the season, plant death, late planting as well as unattractive crop development and later too much rain when it finally came and is now dry again, affected leaf development. Nevertheless, there is irrigated cultivation which managed to establish itself in time. He has developed well,” Mlambo said.
“Entrepreneurs must pay farmers their produce on time, in local Zimbabwean dollars and US dollars, as per the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) statement, so they don’t spend days at the point of sale. »
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), auctions will open on March 30 and contract sales on March 31.
However, TIMB public relations officer Chelesani Moyo said the authority was satisfied with the state of the crop.
“According to the crop assessment carried out by TIMB and Agritex between January 17 and 21, 2022, the harvest from the 837 farms visited in all regions appeared generally good despite the continuous rains that were received,” Moyo said.
“It was the first round of evaluation. The full report covering all the weeks the assessment was conducted is still being consolidated and will be shared with key stakeholders once finalized. »
There has been growing concern over shadow marketing.
“TIMB has established an inspection division which ensures compliance with all regulations, investigates and handles cases of shadow marketing and this unit is being expanded as we enter the 2022 tobacco marketing season,” Moyo said.
“The council is working to criminalize shadow marketing, with perpetrators paying huge fines and/or jail terms of up to six months. TIMB has been carrying out awareness campaigns since late last year and forging long-lasting partnerships with other agencies, such as the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police), farmers’ unions and contracting companies to fight against parallel marketing. »
The TIMB has also recruited people in agricultural areas to report shadow marketing through surveillance patrols using geographic information systems (GIS).
Zimbabwe is the largest tobacco producer in Africa and in 2018 tobacco accounted for around 10% of the country’s GDP.
The government aims to make it a US$5 billion industry by 2025.