At least 13,869 farmers in Zimbabwe have registered to grow tobacco for the first time during the 2016/17 cropping season, representing a 56 per cent increase from the 8,894 recorded at the same time last year, according to the latest statistics from the industry regulator.

Tobacco is the single largest export commodity for Zimbabwe, ahead of platinum and gold and as at Dec 9 this year, at least 73,658 farmers had registered to grow and market the crop this season, with at least 34,363 of them being communal farmers, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said Wednesday.

Since the country started using multiple foreign currencies in 2009, the tobacco industry has been one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown of the past decade because of favorable prices and organized marketing.

Many farmers have been abandoning other cash crops such as cotton for tobacco because of the favourable prices.

The TIMB also said at least 41,462 hectares have been put under tobacco as at the end of last week, up from 38,808 hectares planted during the comparable period last year. Of the 41,462 hectares of planted tobacco, at least 27,066 hectares were put under dry-land tobacco.

The TIMB at least 156.7 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco worth 881.9 million US dollars had been exported this year at an average price of 5.63 USD per kg. The bulk of the tobacco was exported to China while other countries which bought the golden leaf included South Africa, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia.


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