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The tobacco grower base is expected to surpass 100 000 farmers next season with the communal sector dominating. Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri told The Herald on Monday that the number of growers was burgeoning by the season. “So far the tobacco grower base has reached 99 174 growers compared to 82 833 by this time last year. Farmers are still registering and indications are that they will exceed 105 000,” he said.

Dr Matibiri said the increase in the number of tobacco growers would not compromise prices as these were determined by crop quality.

“The future of tobacco is bright. The increasing cigarette production in China means there will always be a high demand for the crop and it will remain viable,” he said.

Communal farmers constitute 46 percent of growers, with 45 134 having registered. About 17 930 communal farmers have registered to grow the crop for the first time.

TIMB and the Farmers Development Trust are training growers to produce tobacco suitable for the export market.

The board is also promoting energy saving barns that are cheap and require little firewood for curing to reduce the rate of deforestation in tobacco growing areas.

Source : The Herald