Tabora — Farmers' earnings from tobacco are expected to go up by 12.24 per cent this year due to a rise in production of the cash crop, data shows.
Speaking during the official launch of tobacco marketing season yesterday, the chairman of Tanzania Tobacco Board (TTB), Mr Hassan Wakasuvi, said a total of 61 million kilograms of tobacco will be sold during this season at an average price of $1.61 (Sh3,700) per kilogram.
This suggests that a total of $98.21 million (about Sh226 billion) will be realised this season.
During the last season, the farmers sold a total of 50 million kilograms of tobacco at an average price of $1.75 (Sh4,025), which means they earned about $87.5 million (about Sh201 billion) from the crop.
A total of 46,000 farmers have grown tobacco this year, Mr Wakasuvi disclosed. They are expected to sell the crop this season, which started earlier this month and will be closed in July, according to the TTB acting director general, Dr Julius Ninga.
Dr Ninga said the drop in price was largely due to the fact that the number of buyers who came to purchase the cash crop was low compared to the previous seasons.
The offered price, he said, was lower than what farmers spent on inputs. Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga said tobacco remains one of the leading traditional export crops in Tanzania and that it is only second to cashew nuts.
He said, last year, tobacco earned Tanzania a total of $195.8 million in foreign exchange earnings.
The minister urged stakeholders in the tobacco sub-sector to step up their efforts in the fight against child labour. Mr Hasunga said child labour was not only against international laws enforced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but it also goes against local employment laws. He warned that any person who contravenes the law runs the risk of facing their wrath.
According to him, in attempt to make tobacco contribute more to both the farmer's and national income, the government will fast-track the registration of all farmers so that by June 30 all of them have special identity cards (IDs) and entered in a special database.
"This will help the government get accurate statistics of the areas where tobacco is grown and thus enabling the government to ensure the availability of farm inputs basing on the actual needs on the ground," Mr Hasunga noted.