Bumper tobacco harvest forecast

tobacco_plantHARARE Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper tobacco harvest this year, with officials projecting output to be at least 40 percent higher than production for the 2009/10 season.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said it expected farmers to deliver 170 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf to the countrys auction floors this year, up from 120 million kg produced during the previous season. The 2010/11 marketing season opened last Tuesday.

“The rains and other conditions have been favourable this year and while farmers still experienced some problems such as power shortages, shortages of working capital among others overall the situation was ideal for tobacco farming,”

Matibiri said. The favourable conditions included above-normal rains and relatively better funding to farmers by banks and private contractors mainly from China.

Chinese companies have in recent years targeted cash-strapped Zimbabwean small-scale tobacco farmers whose production they finance in return for preferential access to the crop. Industry officials say Chinese firms will buy at least half of this year’s tobacco.

The expected bumper tobacco harvest is a boon to Zimbabwes agriculture-based economy which has struggled to recover from the decade-long chaos that has characterised commercial agriculture since President Robert Mugabes controversial land reform programme started in 2000. Before the collapse of commercial agriculture, tobacco was the country’s single largest foreign currency earner, generating $400 million.

Post published in: Economy

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