Elita chikwati: Agriculture Reporter
Farmers with an early-planted irrigated tobacco crop have started reaping, while others are counting their losses after their crop was destroyed by hailstorm in parts of the country.Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa yesterday confirmed that farmers with the early crop had started reaping.
“Reaping of irrigated crop established first week of September has started in Mvurwi. Tobacco has also been severely affected by hail that has been experienced in some parts of the country, with the latest being Selous, Hurungwe and Rusape,” he said.
In Selous, the crop was destroyed on Sunday and some farmers said they were not sure if their crop will recover while others had the crop insured. MonKris Farm in Selous had 15 hectares of the tobacco destroyed by hail on Sunday. One of the workers, Mr Blessing Mugoni said the crop had been insured.
“We experienced hail for about 40 to 50 minutes and the crop was shredded to pieces. We were expecting to start reaping end of December and our yields have been compromised,” he said.
The Meteorological Services Department said the country would receive normal to above normal rainfall during the 2016/ 17 season. Experts said the rains were good for tobacco production as most of the farmers relied on rain-fed agriculture. Farmers were, however, urged to insure their crops as the rains were usually accompanied by hail and strong winds that could destroy the tobacco.
Farmers have planted 32 208 hectares of tobacco during the 2016/ 17 season. The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board statistics indicate that this is an increase from the 28 865 hectares that had been planted during the corresponding period last year.
There has also been an increase in the number of registered growers, with 73 492 registered for the 2016 /17 season, an increase from last year’s 69 518.