ZIMBABWE’S tobacco production is likely to slump further next year on information that the country has only managed to plant half the hectarage that
has been targeted for the 2006-7 season.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) said a total of 40 000 hectares of tobacco has been planted out of the targeted 80 000 hectares due to the shortage of essential inputs such as fertiliser and diesel for tillage equipment.
ZTGA president Julius Ngorima said the decline in the amount of hectarage planted would result in a sharp decline in tobacco production next year.
“A total of 80 000 hectares was targeted to be put under tobacco this year. 40 000 has been planted due to the problems most farmers faced such as lack of inputs and shortage of diesel,” he said.
Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has declined by 170,63 million kg from an all-time high of 236,13 million kg recorded in 2000 to 55,5 million kg which went under the hammer this year.
Ngorima said a significant number of farmers had prepared seed beds for transplanting, but the shortage of inputs and financial resources held them back.
He said it was highly unlikely that a target of 70 million kg in the next farming season will be met.
“The regional cut-off date for this season’s tobacco is November 20. I do not think there would be a significant increase to the amount of hectarage between now and the deadline (cut-off date),” Ngorima said.
Any tobacco that is planted after November 20 is regarded a late crop and is usually not ready for harvest during the next selling season which usually starts in April or May.
Due to the shortage of inputs, an average of between 800 and 1 000 kg per hectare was expected this season, down from the normal 2 000 kg.
Zimbabwe sold a total of 55,5 million kg of flue-cured tobacco worth US$110,7 million in the 2006 selling season.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) this week said some 55 466 689 kg of tobacco went under the hammer at an average price of US$1,99 per kg.
The amount sold represents a remarkable decline from the 73 376 990 kg of tobacco worth US$118 165 025 sold at an average price of US$1,61 during the same period last year.
Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has been declining over the years from a peak of 236,13 million kg in 2000 to the current levels due to shortage of inputs and recurrent droughts among other factors.
In 2001 about 202 million kg went under the hammer while 165,84kg, 81,81kg and 69 million kg were sold in 2002, 2003 and 2004 respectively.