PLANTING of the 2012/2013 irrigated tobacco started last week, with players in the industry hoping for an increase in the hectarage compared to last season. Tobacco Industry Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri said seed sales were already 14 percent higher than those recorded last season, giving the prospects of a higher hectarage to be planted.
"The seed sold so far is enough to cover 116 000 ha," he said.
"This may be attributed to the influx of new growers including some who have abandoned growing cotton."
Dr Matibiri said that many new farmers were expected to start growing the crop this season because of the good prices fetched last season.
The highest price at the auction floors for the last marketing season was US$4,99 per kilogramme.
"Such prices can be very attractive to farmers even though we had expected them to go beyond that since most of the tobacco the farmers are producing is of high quality," Dr Matibiri said.
He urged farmers to stick to proper methods of propagation and consult TIMB and other extension agents for technical advice and services.
At least 140 million kgs of tobacco worth US$524 million was sold during the marketing season which ended with a mop-up sale in September.