Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zim expects higher tobacco output

Zim expects higher tobacco output

by Tobias Manyuchi     Tuesday 15 February 2011

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s tobacco selling season opens tomorrow with more than 170
million kilogrammes expected to be sold this year up from 123 million
kilogrammes sold last year, in yet another sign of recovery in the farming
sector after a decade of decline blamed on President Robert Mugabe’s
controversial land reforms.

Some industry experts say as much as 200 million kilograms could be sold
this year, just short of the 236 million kilogrammes realised from the
1999/2000 season before the chaotic and often violent land reforms
destabilised agriculture.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive Andrew Matibiri
said 60 000 farmers or 35 000 more farmers than were recorded last year were
expected to deliver their crop to the auction floors between Wednesday and
the end of September when the selling season ends.

A top official at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), one of Zimbabwe’s biggest
auction floors, said they were ready to move up to 200 million kilogrammes.

John Mutemanesango managing director at TSF said: “We have the capacity to
sell about 18 000 kilogrammes per day and if you multiply that by the three
months that marketing runs, we can sell all the tobacco that farmers will
produce this year.”

Once a breadbasket of the region during the first two decades of
independence, Zimbabwe has for the last 10 years relied on food handouts
from aid agencies after production plummeted when Mugabe’s supporters
forcibly took commercial farms from white farmers.

The plunge in production coincided with the collapse of the economy, which
was marked by hyperinflation and acute shortages of foreign currency and
high unemployment.

Commercial farming was once a preserve of white Rhodesian farmers, but in
the last decade the sector has embraced a new crop of black farmers who have
struggled to maintain previous production levels due to widespread shortages
of farming inputs like seed and fertilizer.

The plunge in agriculture could have bottomed out as witnessed by rising
production in tobacco and maize and a rebound in dairy and cattle farming.

Production of the country’s main staple food maize reached 1.35 million in
2010, slightly up from 2009 but a bigger jump from 2008 when output plumbed
new depths of 500,000 tonnes. — ZimOnline


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