Seed sales for the 2022/23 tobacco season are on the rise and if all seed that has been sold is planted, experts are predicting the largest ever hectarage for the crop, reports The Herald.
Statistics from the Tobacco Research Board (TRB) show that so far at least 925 kg of tobacco seed has been sold meaning 184,999 hectares could be covered. In comparison, in the previous season 798 kg of seed to cover 159,664 hectares was sold.
The planting of irrigated tobacco is now underway with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) saying they are monitoring contractors and making sure they stick to agreements made with farmers. In the previous season, this had led to problems with many farmers upset with how contractors had handled business.
“As the 2022/23 season commences, TIMB is working towards standardising the inputs package offered by contractors to growers. We have come up with a compliance administration framework that every registered contractor should meet. This stipulates the minimum inputs package for both small and large-scale growers. The conditions also include the last date for inputs distribution for those who are contracted,” TIMB public relations officer Mrs Chelesani Moyo said. She also said that TIMB was mandated to “ensure that growers got the most from their toil.”
On the other hand, farmers are unsure about the future with Tobacco Farmers Union vice president, Mr Edward Dune saying hectarages could be reduced if the challenges from last season were not addressed.
“For the 2022/23 season, smallholder farmers are likely to decrease or maintain the area under dryland tobacco due to lack of funds and other problems experienced with contract farming while no change on irrigated area is anticipated. The area under irrigated tobacco is likely to increase by about 10 percent from well off and financially sound farmers due to guaranteed quality, price and obtaining investment on the ground among this group,” he said.