Zimbabwe

High quality tobacco yield expected

Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

High quality tobacco is expected during the 2021 marketing season although yields in some areas were affected by heavy rains, the Zimbabwe Tobacco association has revealed.

Firm prices are also expected during this marketing season which open as on April 7 for auction sales with contract sales.

In the monthly ZTA Tobacco report for March, it states that yield is likely to be low this season due to heavy rains but the quality is expected to improve.

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“Though yields will be down, the quality of this season’s crop is better than 2020.

“While diseases affected, thinner crops may not be acceptable by all buyers, there remains a strong demand.

“Much firmer US dollar prices are expected and that should push the national average price significantly up on last season,” read the report.

For the irrigated crop, the ZTA report stated that yields were estimated to decline by 10 percent from last season/s yields.

“Yield ranges, depending on area vary from 3 200 to 4 000 kilogrammes per hectare. Quality, though, of the crop cured is very good. Diseases such as angular, wildfire, altinaria were reported in a number of areas. Pests’ outbreaks were few with only laceworm reported in one area. Variety concerns were K26 – 66 – disease and T64 eelworm. PVY was also reported,” said the report.

The ZTA said yields for the dryland crop were estimated to be much lower than last season because of the very wet weather experienced in January and February.

“Estimates go to low as 2 000 kilogrammes per hectare up to 3 000kg/ha for commercial growers and 800kg/ha to 1 400kg/ha. The higher than normal rainfall has resulted in some areas experiencing water logging of fields and leaching of some crops.

“A thinner crop is expected. Disease, such as frog eye, angular, wildfire can be found in a major portion of the crop. Potential overall quality however remains good. Sucker control varies from good to poor. Nematodes have been controlled with Blockade and Telone. End of reaping is estimated towards end of April,” said the report.

The association said it was pleased by the payment modalities announced by the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe but were concerned about the tobacco retention levels.

“We appreciate that for the purpose of retention levels tobacco growers will now enjoy the same level as other exporters; 60 percent in foreign currency payable into growers FCAs and 40 percent converted at the prevailing auction rate on the day of sale payable into local currency growers’ account, both amounts payable net of foreign currency denominated loans.

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“However, the 60 percent falls short of our foreign currency cost of production component which reflects a minimum of 70 percent.

“Growers’ viability will not improve with the retention levels announced and we plead with the authorities to review the foreign currency retention level before the start of the selling season. Improving growers’ viability is paramount in ensuring the targeted growth in the sector is achieved and the country realises improved foreign currency inflows,” said the ZTA.

About 200 million kilogrammes of tobacco are expected this season with merchants expected to bring in above US$500 million to the market.

HERALD