Farmers start sowing tobacco seedbeds

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Farmers start sowing tobacco seedbeds

Precious Manomano

Herald Reporter

Farmers are now gearing up for the next tobacco season, with sowing of tobacco seedbeds starting yesterday.

The farmers have been urged to ensure they select the correct seed varieties that suit the environmental conditions of their fields to boost yields and quality.

June 1 marks the beginning of sowing tobacco seedbeds on the farming calendar.

Farmers are also encouraged to abide by the regulations set by Government.

They must sow the permitted seed according to the set regulations so that the industry remains viable.

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika said it was critical to choose a variety which suits the region, adding that this season they were expecting an improvement in yields.

“There are different varieties available that are adapted to the region of your farm,” he said. “You have to ensure that you select the correct variety that suits the environmental conditions of your farm to boost your yields.”

Mr Mariranyika said farmers should sign contracts which they fully understood to avoid disagreements that may emanate between the contractors and themselves.

Sowing of seedbeds starts on June 1 for irrigated crops. Most smallholder farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture are expected to start sowing in July and August.

Recently, the Government assured farmers that there was enough seed for all crops, urging them to work hard to produce better yields.

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust vice president Mr Edward Dune urged growers to buy inputs as they sold their crop at the floors.

“We are witnessing another fast beckoning tobacco season,” he said.

“All is in place. We are ready in terms of seedbed preparation. Farmers have been busy with soil testing to get correct recommendations on nutrients required so they can get high quality seedlings and the leaf itself.”

Mrs Marjory Mumanikidzwa of Banket said farmers were geared to embark on the new season, adding that they were busy attending to various issues such as wheat and tobacco planting.

“We are excited that the new season has began, but this is the stressful period because of various duties which all need attention at the same time,” she said. “Avoiding the other activity may cause disasters, hence we are forced to divide ourselves so that all the work is attended to.’’

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) indicate that farmers have so far sold 231,5 million kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$700 million compared to 148 million kg sold at US$445 million at this time last year.

This is an increase of 56 percent sold during the corresponding period last year.TIMB sales statistics indicate that the highest price of US$6,10 per kilogramme was offered at the contract floors, while auction floors have continued to register a highest price of US$4,99 per kg.

Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions in foreign currency annually.

It is important to the country as a foreign currency earner, contributing to improved livelihoods and employing a large number of the rural population.

Earnings from tobacco have improved the livelihoods of both smallholder, medium and large-scale farmers.