Elita Chikwati–Senior Agriculture Reporter
The Tobacco Research Board has enough tobacco seed for the next five seasons and can supply some varieties for up to 10 years, a development that is key to Government’s programme of raising production to 300 million kg annually by 2025.
Government is targeting to increase tobacco production to 300 million kg annually through the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Strategy.
TRB chief executive, Dr Dahlia Garwe on Tuesday said Zimbabwe has enough tobacco seed even if it did not produce for more than two years.
“We have enough seed to cater for a minimum of five years after ripening.
“The seed will be able to support Government’s programme of boosting production from the current 207 million kg to 300 million kg by 2025.
“The seed that is aged is better than the fresh one. Our seed is stored under very specific conditions and can last up to 10 years or more. We have enough varieties in stock such as the most popular KRK26, KRK66 and the new variety KRK 76 which is already overtaking the popular. Ones. Even if we don’t produce seed for two years we will not experience shortages,” she said.
Dr Garwe assured farmers that although they stock seed for years, the quality is not compromised as the planting material is properly stored and also certified by quality standards organisations.
“Farmers should no worry over deterioration. After ripening testing facilities are in place,” she said.
Dr Garwe said it was possible for farmers to increase production but were facing the challenges of post-harvest losses.
“The issue of production is however not only about seed. Seed is an important factor but farmers also need to be trained to handling the crop after harvesting.
“Our farmers get a very good crop but incur losses beginning from the barn.
“TRB in conjunction with a private company has come up with an initiative that will help farmers condition their crop and reduce losses,” she said.
The Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Strategy enables the intensification of tobacco production by enhancing transparency and fair tobacco marketing, reform, restructuring and rebuilding of existing institutions to optimise tobacco value chain financing.
The strategy also seeks to promote value addition and to facilitate the production of alternative crops to tobacco to diversify revenues and assure industry sustainability in the face of climate change and anti-tobacco campaigns.
As part of agriculture transformation, the Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement envisions transforming 18 000 A2 farmers to become agricultural entrepreneurs and 360 000 A1 farmers to become viable and formal small-to-medium enterprises by 2025, focusing on upskilling their activities.
Government on the other hand is also working on creating a revolving fund with an initial injection from treasury of US$60 000 million for the production of 60 million kg in the coming season.
This will enhance Zimbabwe’s value addition to tobacco and increase the net benefit to the country’s revolving foreign currency earnings.