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Sunday, July 14, 2024

16 000 hectares under irrigated tobacco this year

Story by Owen Mandovha, Business Reporter

IRRIGATION is expected to anchor tobacco production to attain the target of a US$5 billion industry by 2025 after increasing the hectarage under irrigated tobacco this year.

Farmers have already put more than 15 000 hectares under irrigated tobacco, an increase of 9% from the hectarage planted during the same period last year.

In addition, more seedlings were planted this season, which, according to Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chair Mr Patrick Devenish signals the industry’s US$5 billion target by 2025 is within reach.

“This year alone farmers have put a record 167 000 hectares under seed since June and this means more tobacco will be grown this year and obviously government’s irrigation plan is paying off because farmers are growing more tobacco under irrigation, which translates to increased tobacco production this season and our expectations are that more irrigation projects and dam construction being done by Government will sustain production,” he said.

The industry is also making strides in beneficiation with investments in cut rag processing plant, while exports of value-added tobacco reached US$173 million compared to US$129 million last year.

“There are processing plants which are being built by different industry players and in particular a cut rag processor in Harare which we expect to take over 40 percent of raw tobacco. This is in sync with government’s value addition policy enshrined in the Tobacco Industry Value Chain Transformation Plan,” he added.

Zimbabwe experienced its best tobacco season this year after raking-in a record 296 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf, just four million short of the government 300 million target.

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