THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) last week distributed inputs for 2 000 hectares to 800 tobacco farmers in the first phase of a $70 million input facility from the central bank.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
TIMB spokesperson, Isheunesu Moyo told NewsDay that the process of providing inputs had started in some parts of the country and that they were targeting non-contracted farmers.
“We have started rolling out the process and distribution is taking place in the four major tobacco farming provinces which are Mashonaland East, Central and West and Manicaland.
“At least an area covering 2 000 hectares and 800 farmers have received inputs and we are using the funds from the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe), which was increased from $28 million last season to provide inputs to farmers, who are not contracted,” he said.
In order to support tobacco and increase the crop output in light of the golden leaf being the second major foreign currency earner in Zimbabwe, RBZ this year increased its $28 million input facility scheme to $70 million.
The RBZ facility is being distributed by TIMB and is meant to cover over 40 000 hectares of land through providing inputs needed for growing the golden leaf in the country’s major tobacco producing provinces.
The tobacco input and credit scheme is also meant to give contractors competition, as it will give farmers inputs at competitive prices.
The scheme is expected to improve the quality and output of tobacco produced in Zimbabwe.
“TIMB learnt from its mistakes last season, where it distributed inputs late.
“This season, we started distributing before the legislated date for establishing seedbeds.
“This helps farmers plan, as time, in farming is a resource,” Moyo said.
Lovemore Kadyero, a tobacco farmer from ward 5 in Marondera hailed TIMB’s initiative.
“We are happy with this initiative, as we are now getting our inputs in time and we are expecting to have an improved yield,” he said.
The tobacco input and credit scheme and the inclusion of tobacco into command agriculture earlier this year is expected to see between 180 million and 200 million kilogrammes of the crop being sold this marketing season.