At least 1 225 farmers have so far registered to grow burley tobacco during the 2012/13 farming season compared to 752 farmers who grew the crop last year, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board said yesterday.
In a statement, the TIMB said burley tobacco had remained popular among small- holder farmers, mainly those in the drier parts of the country.
The majority of the farmers are from Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces with 793 and 292 farmers respectively.
The TIMB said the bulk of the registered farmers were small-scale communal and A1 farmers who numbered 864 and 3 152 respectively, with the remainder being A2 and small-scale commercial farmers.
Flue-cured tobacco has remained the most popular among farmers countrywide with at least 66 000 growing it last year.
Burley tobacco growers have often struggled to sell their crop at the auction floors especially after the Burley Marketing Zimbabwe closed shop in 2011.
Meanwhile, a total of 63 352 farmers have so registered to grow flue-cured tobacco in the 2012/13 season compared to about 33 808 who had registered during the same period last year.
At least 22 182 farmers registered for the first time. The deadline for farmers intending to grow tobacco is October 13 of each year.
However, according to TIMB, there was still room for late registration, which attracts a fine of US$10 until December 31 and US$40 from January.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced about 142 million kg of tobacco, slightly short of the 150 kgs target the Government had set as it moved to return production levels to the pre-2000 era. -- New Ziana.