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New growers join tobacco sector

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THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) say it will register more new tobacco growers for the 2013 season as more farmers look to take advantage of firm prices recorded in the just ended marketing season.

Prices for the crop closed 34,2 percent firmer, averaging US$3,69 per kg compared to US$2,75 last year.

The TIMB said more than 42,000 tobacco farmers have already renewed their growers’ registration with the exercise expected to continue until the end of October.

Last season, a total of 71,023 tobacco growers were registered and out of these, 24 000 were new entries. At least 80 percent of the registered growers are small scale farmers, the TIMB added.

The Medium-Term Plan (MTP) forecasted tobacco output at 180 million kg this year, which could not be achieved due to limited funding among other constraints.

Still, overall sales volumes for the season reached 137.5 million kgs, 6,1 percent above the government revised projection of 130 million kg.

The country earned US$507,2 million from this year’s crop, representing a 45 percent increase on the US$348,7 million recorded last year.

Contract sales accounted for 86,3 million kgs of the crop while auction sales reached 51,2 million kgs.
Tobacco production has continued to record steady recovery over the years but officials say the industry needs US$200 million in fresh capital to return to peak production levels of 237 million kg recorded in 2000.

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