Mashonaland West is expected to record a marginal increase in the volume of tobacco that will be delivered to the auction floors this year due to the dry spell experienced in the province.
At least 78,5 million kilogrammes of tobacco are expected to be delivered to the floors compared to 76,5 million kg last season. Approximately 40 000 hectares, made up of 5 000ha of the irrigated crop and 35 000ha of the dry land crop, were put under tobacco this season compared to 35 000ha last season.
Agritex crop production specialist Mr Phillip Musona said the prolonged dry spell experienced during the farming season had affected the quality of the crop and the areas planted. “Because of dry spells, which hit the province, our expectations have changed, the yields were greatly affected, making it difficult to produce high quality and great volumes,” said Mr Musona.
“Colouring was a challenge in the leaf because of excessive dryness, there was also loss of weight because of wilting and the plants produced less leaves contributed to the drastic cut in our expected yield.”
Mr Musona said they were expecting better volumes due to an increase in hectarage, with the irrigated tobacco faring better than the rain-fed one. “Irrigated tobacco produces high yield and better quality whereas the growth of the rain-fed crop is very slow,” he said. Tobacco output this marketing season is expected to decline due to drought experienced this season and damage to the crop.
The golden leaf is the second largest foreign currency earner after gold.