20 February 2014

Bigger tobacco crop will help Zim's ailing economy

According to a minister Zimbabwe hopes to boost agricultural output this year with an increase in tobacco production, already the country's biggest export.

Zimbabwe hopes to boost agricultural output by almost 10% this year with an increase in tobacco production, already the country's biggest export, according to a minister.

Still recovering from the country's chaotic land reform laws pushed by President Robert Mugabe, the sector has attracted small-scale farmers who were allocated farms.

"The agricultural sector is expected to grow by 9% and this growth is expected to be driven largely by the tobacco sector," Ignatius Chombo, the acting agriculture minister said at the opening of the 2014 tobacco selling season.

Read: World No Tobacco Day

Tobacco production has been steadily rising since 2009, but has not reached the peak level of 236 million kilograms seen in 2000.

In 2006, production fell to 56 million kilograms, the weakest since independence from Britain in 1980.

Zim's biggest agricultural export

Tobacco remains Zimbabwe's biggest agricultural export, although mining has overtaken farming as the main foreign currency earner.

As testimony to the country's ailing economy, insufficient funding has resulted in some farmers leasing their farms to foreign companies, mostly from China.

The chairperson of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, Monica Chinamasa said this season contractors made up 54% of the registered growers.

At this year's auction, the highest price was $4.98 per kilogram.

Picture: Tobacco farming from Shutterstock

Read more:

Tobacco farming causes global warming

Tobacco used to fight cancer

Tobacco regulations tightened


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