The Zimbabwe tobacco selling season has kicked off in Harare. The number of tobacco farmers continues to grow with more than 82 000 growers registered for 2017 – an improvement from the previous season, with a 16% growth.

It is harvest time in Zimbabwe and tobacco farmers are cashing in. Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s single largest export commodity, ahead of platinum and gold.

This year more than 15 000 first time growers are registered.

“As we continue to celebrate the resurgence of the tobacco industry, we must be mindful of the fact that it is a reality that tobacco production is contributing towards deforestation and climate change. Therefore, I call upon all growers to reorient their production practices to patterns that favours sustainability and satisfy the new needs of the market,” says Chairperson of Tobacco Industries and Marketing Board Monica Chinamasa.

Tobacco is the biggest foreign currency earner for the Southern African nation. With the upsurge in the global ban on tobacco, the country will be severely affected.

China has become the largest investor and other major buyers include Belgium, South Africa and Indonesia.

“Government will continue to balance its economic interests in tobacco production against health concerns associated with tobacco consumption, just as much as we are enjoying the market. I also asked the ambassador what is the growth in China. He also indicated that tobacco is being banned in certain areas. So, we must always be conscious of that,” says Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made.

Two hundred and two million kilograms of tobacco were sold in the last season and there is an expectation that the figure will be surpassed in 2017.

The quality of the tobacco has also improved due to the adequate rains.

– By Ndundu Sithole