HARARE, Zimbabwe's tobacco farmers who have not yet received the five per cent export incentive should approach their respective banks to resolve the issue, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) says.

In order to encourage tobacco farmers to increase production, as well as promote financial inclusion, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) awarded a five per cent export incentive to tobacco growers' payable through normal banking channels.

In a statement here Sunday, the TIMB said most farmers who sold tobacco in the 2016 marketing season had been paid their five per cent export incentive but "a small number of farmers have not yet received the five per cent export incentive".

"Tobacco farmers with outstanding five per cent export incentive payments should approach their respective banks, or any of the TIMB offices if the incentive has not been deposited in their accounts," said the industry regulator.

The RBZ recently said it had paid 26.6 million US dollars in export incentive to farmers who sold tobacco during the 2016 marketing season. Meanwhile, the 2017 tobacco selling season is set to commence on March 15 when sales at auction floors open with contract trades resuming the next day on March 16.

The tobacco marketing season traditionally opens in February but the prevailing rainy conditions have prolonged curing of the crop. This year, the country has projected an output of 205 million kilogrammes of tobacco from about 107,035 hectares of land put under the crop.

At least 82,110 farmers have registered to grow and sell tobacco during this cropping season.

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 favourable prices and organized marketing.

Many farmers have been abandoning other cash crops such as cotton for tobacco, which is now the single largest export commodity for Zimbabwe, ahead of platinum and gold. Zimbabwe exports tobacco to countries like China, South Africa, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia.