via Tobacco records highest output in 14 years – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 17, 2014 Tarisai Mandizha
TOBACCO production has surpassed the 210 million kg mark for the first time in 14 years as the rebound in output continues, driven by small-scale farmers.
The last time output surpassed 210 million kg was in 2000 when it reached 227 726 000kg.
By Tuesday, 210 598 690kg had gone under the hammer at the country’s three auction floors — Boka, Premier and TSF — raking in $668 002 625.
During the same period last year, 159 852 776kg had been sold valued at $590 116 320.
Most of the tobacco has been brought under the contract system, which is accounting for more than 50% of the delivered crop piling pressure on auctions whose survival is now under threat.
In May, auction floors told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Mechanisation that the absence of funding from banks means that farmers have to go under contract thereby killing the auction floors.
“Banks stopped funding farmers and it is contractors that fund them, which kills business at auction floors,” Premier Tobacco Floors managing director Philemon Mangena told the committee.
Tuesday was the day for mop up sales following the closure of the marketing season on June 27.
Tobacco has become the preferred crop among farmers due to the good returns unlike other crops such as maize and cotton.
This has seen an increase in the number of growers.
TIMB statistics showed that 106 456 growers have so far registered compared to about 91 278 registered during the same period last year.
Out of the registered growers are new ones with Mashonaland West registering 11 713 growers, Mashonaland Central 8 231 growers, Manicaland (5 465), Mashonaland East (4 135), Midlands (338), Masvingo (265) and Matabeleland had the least number of registered growers with five.