Despite concerns that heavy rains could militate against a better yield, Zimbabwe’s tobacco output this year is projected at 200 million kilograms.
Rodney Ambrose, c.e.o. of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, said the crop will perform notwithstanding the dangers of excessive rainfall and associated plant diseases.
“We anticipate an estimated output of 200 (m.kg) depending on how long the wet spell will take. The rainfall can bring more diseases to the crop but I am sure farmers are trained to handle the situation,” he said. “Eastern districts such as Macheke and Headlands area and some areas in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central have been experiencing a consistent wet spell.”
Ambrose also said he was optimistic the crop would attract a better price, saying lower quality leaf will attract a poorer price than middle and upper leaf crop whose prices will be predictably firm.
Isheunesu Moyo, public relations manager for the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) was reported to say that a shortage of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on the market was causing leaching of nutrients with some farmers losing their crop.
“Excessive rains lead to leaching of nutrients, particularly nitrogen. The problem was exacerbated by shortage of ammonium nitrate on the market. The central bank has intervened by allocating foreign currency to fertilizer manufacturers and we hope the situation will get better. Farmers who did not make good ridges are losing crop due to sheet floods,” Moyo said.
TIMB statistics show that as of December 29, 2016, 164.5 m.kg of tobacco valued at US$933.6 million has been exported to various destinations across the globe. TIMB figures also show that as of January 5, 2017, tobacco area planted for the 2016/17 season stands at 91,805 hectares from 87,755 hectares last season.