The number of new tobacco growers for the 2021/22 season has declined by 50 percent, compared to the same period last year.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) latest report, 2 121 farmers were registered during the last season compared to 1 094 this year.
The TIMB statistics show that of the newly registered growers, 756 are from the communal sector, 244 are A1 farmers, while 38 and 56 are from the small scale commercial and A2 sector respectively.
Mashonaland West, which recorded the highest number of new growers last year, also recorded a decline from 751 to 135 this year.
Mashonaland Central, which was second highest with 744 farmers, this season registered 296 farmers only.
Masvingo and the Matabeleland region, which had no new registrations last year, this time registered one new tobacco farmer in each province.
Midlands, which had no new tobacco grower last year, this year has four farmers with three of them being A2 farmers and one A1 farmer.
TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu, attributed the decline in registrations to viability issues.
“The decline witnessed in terms of registration of new tobacco growers can be attributed to viability issues.
“The cost of production is going up and the growing demand of the US dollar component in the operations,” he said.
“Even farm labourers now demand payment in foreign currency.
“So without development funding it becomes a challenge for new tobacco farmers to register.”
Meanwhile, average prices for tobacco exports have marginally increased this year.
Mr Gudu attributed to the opening of the markets by Government.
“There is increased exports which is a clear reflection of the opening up of the economy post Covid-19 lockdowns and there are improvements in logistics,” he said.
So far Zimbabwe has exported tobacco worth US$307,8 million this season as compared to US$222,2 million same period last year.
Trade with the leading market Far East, for 2020/2021 season witnessed an increase in the average price of tobacco from US$6,79 to US$7,12 per kg this season.