FARMERS from non-traditional tobacco growing areas have turned to the golden leaf, a move that is set to boost output, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Timb) has said.
Officially opening Zimbabwe's 2014 tobacco marketing season at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) last week, Timb board chairperson Monica Chinamasa, said more farmers were joining the industry.
"Notably, the tobacco industry has continued to grow with a large number of farmers in non-traditional tobacco growing areas now registering to grow tobacco for the first time. More than 1 000 new growers from Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland North provinces are growing tobacco in areas which were previously non-traditional [tobacco growing] areas," she said.
Chinamasa said presently, more than 88 000 growers have registered this year compared to about 65 000 during the same period in 2013.
"Out of the registered growers, 26 000 are new growers who have registered for the first time," Chinamasa said.
This selling season's earnings are expected to beat the US$616 million achieved last year, providing relief to an economy starved of liquidity.
The first bale was auctioned at US$4, 85 per kg, 35 cents more than the US$4,50 dollars offered last year.
Last year, the yield was 167 million kg which sold at an average US$3,69 per kg. Chinamasa said the growth registered in the tobacco sector was largely attributed to the support provided by contractors.