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November 25, 2011

Zimbabwe: 11,000 hectares of tobacco put under irrigation

At least 11 000 hectares of irrigable land has so far been put under tobacco for Zimbabwe's current agricultural season, an official said on November 23.

Last season, 52 000 farmers registered to produce tobacco on 65 000 hectares, 13 000 hectares of which was under irrigation. Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri told New Ziana much of the crop would be planted as soon as the country began receiving rains.

"Most of the planting will start this week since the country has begun receiving rains," he said.

The bulk of Zimbabwe's tobacco is grown under rain-fed agriculture.

Tobacco farming has attracted more farmers in the past two years due to the multiple currencies.

Analysts have tipped tobacco production to increase on the back of attractive prices and orderly marketing. Zimbabwe is the world's sixth largest exporter of the flue-cured Virginia tobacco after Brazil, India, the United States, Argentina and Tanzania.

More than 120 million kilogrammes of tobacco were sold last season with the contract system contributing the bulk of the sales.

The country is determined to return to the peak production levels of more than 200 million kg reached in the late 1990s before Western countries imposed economic sanctions which saw most sectors going on a free fall. Last season the industry had projected an output of 77 million kilogrammes to go under the hammer but this was later revised twice, first to 93 million kg and then 114 million kg.

An estimated 250 000 people are directly employed in the production of tobacco.

The Herald

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