Tobacco prices during the 2021 marketing season firmed by 12 percent compared to last year with at least 200 tonnes being sold this year.
This was revealed by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday evening.
She said government was also targeting to contract at least 50 000 hectares for tobacco production, up from 12 000 hectares during the 2020/2021 agricultural season with the ambitious project being funded by local banks.
Nearly 67 025 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season compared to the 57 252 farmers who had registered at the same time last year reflecting a 17 percent increase.
“As part of the localization of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is contracting 50 000 ha, up from the 12 000 ha contracted last year.
“This is estimated to cost US$60 million, and will be financed by local banks, including the Agricultural Finance Company,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said a cumulative tobacco sales, as at August 31, were 208 816 935 kg, with prices being 12 percent firmer than last year, due to improved quality offerings by farmers.
“These deliveries have already surpassed 184 million kilogrammes received last year by 13.5 percent. The value of the tobacco deliveries is also 28 percent higher than last year,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the winter wheat crop was generally good across all provinces while major activities on the farms include spraying of chemicals for pest control, top dressing and routine irrigation.
“There is adequate water in the dams for crop irrigation. Early planted wheat is now at hard dough stage in most provinces. The producer price will be announced in due course.
“From the 66 435.86 hectares planted under the Presidential, NEAPS/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes at a yield level of 4.5 tonnes per hectare, the country expects 298 961 MT, against the national requirement of 360 000 MT,” she said.
The Grain Marketing Board, according to Minister Mutsvangwa, had also started preparations for wheat intake while designating 18 intake depots across Zimbabwe.
“The allocation of combine harvesters and transporters is being finalized by AFC and GMB. Harvesting of the early-planted wheat is expected to start from mid-September onwards, and fuel for the contracted farmers is being made available on time.
“The Quelea bird menace remains a major threat in all provinces, and farmers are accessing bird shield chemical from GMB.
“The use of drones to complement knapsack spraying has been adopted to improve efficiency and reduce costs as efforts to save the crop from the migratory birds continue.”
She said Cabinet also approved that a Migratory Pest Control Unit be established as a department in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to ensure surveillance of all important pests (quelea, locust and armyworm) and train farmers on surveillance.
The unit would also react to outbreaks, coordinate stakeholder efforts and mobilize resources for adequate and effective responses.
She said Zimbabwe’s wheat stocks are sufficient until the next harvest – expected from mid-September.
On the 2021/22 grain marketing season, Minister Mutsvangwa said selected GMB depots have now introduced 24 hour shifts to accelerate grain intake and reduce the waiting time for farmers.
“Collections are being ramped up in all areas of high grain output. Mashonaland West Province has the highest maize and soyabean intake, while Mashonaland Central has the highest traditional grains intake.
“On another positive note, traditional grains production has improved remarkably. The current sorghum intake of 89 573 metric tonnes has exceeded the highest ever tonnage since independence, which was the 82 013 metric tonnes delivered in the 1985-86 marketing season,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said efforts to curtail side marketing have netted 241 individuals while 3 258 tonnes of maize was recovered.
Another 1 489 tonnes of Soyabean were also recovered from 62 individuals.