Tobacco experiments

Farmers in Matabeleland North have started to experiment with tobacco farming in an effort to generate money from the cash crop.

Jeremia Shoko's tobacco crop at Dever farm in Umguza.
Jeremia Shoko’s tobacco crop at Dever farm in Umguza.

Tobacco production, a major foreign currency earner, has been concentrated in Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces where the crop has transformed the lives of many small scale and newly resettled farmers. After realising the lucrative returns from the crop, some farmers in this drought-prone province this year planted tobacco for the first time.

“This year I have planted two hectares of tobacco. I am told the white farmer who used to own the land before it was acquired by the government used to grow tobacco

during the 80s. I did not want to risk planting a larger hectarage, because I am still experimenting,” said Velapi Moyo, a new farmer in Umguza.

Velapi, who is using overhead irrigation to prevent his crop from withering, said he had been inspired by newly resettled farmers in Mashonaland.

“I was in Goromonzi in Mashonaland East recently. Most small scale farmers there are driving cars and living a modest life because of growing tobacco. Most farmers in that area are now opting to grow tobacco rather than maize, because with tobacco farmers are instantly paid cash upon delivery,” said Velapi.

Another new farmer, Jeremia Shoko, planted tobacco at Denver farm which he was allocated together with other 15 farmers under the controversial land reform programme.

“Our major challenge is the lack of knowledge about the crop. The crop is very expensive to grow. It is labour intensive. Most of the irrigation facilities at the farm have been destroyed,” said Shoko.

Tobacco production in the country plummeted from 237 million kgs during the height of the land invasions in 20002 to 49 million kgs in 2008. Production has since recovered and the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association said 132 million kgs was auctioned in 2011.

Post published in: Agriculture

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