At least 19 265 hectares of land have so far been put under tobacco during the 2018 /19 summer cropping season, up from 18 396 hectares that had been planted during the same period last year, statistics released by the industry regulator show.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), of the total area planted, at least 16 276 hectares were planted under irrigation while the remainder is a rain-fed crop.
Also according to TIMB, at least 166 039 farmers have so far registered to grow tobacco during the 2018 /19 cropping season, a 66 percent rise from 100 237 growers recorded during the comparable period last year.
Of the total number of registered growers, 93 212 are communal farmers.
The tobacco industry has been one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown of the past decade due to favourable prices and organised marketing.
Many farmers have been abandoning other cash crops such as cotton for tobacco due to the favourable prices and orderly marketing.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe produced 252.5 million kilograms of tobacco during the 2017 /18 cropping season, a 34 percent increase from the previous season.
Tobacco is the single largest export commodity for Zimbabwe, ahead of platinum and gold. Zimbabwean tobacco is exported to countries like China, South Africa, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia among others. – New Ziana.