Tobacco farmers in Burma valley have now shifted to cigar wrapper farming so they could receive direct payments into their accounts for their crop.
By Freeman Makopa
Tobacco Industry Marketing Board spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo told NewsDay that they were pushing for the expansion of cigar-wrapper farming.
“Cigar-wrapper farming was started under trial and the trial will soon be evaluated and considerations on the expansion of the project in terms of geographical areas as well as hectares farmed will soon be made,” he said.
“These farmers tend to benefit from the payments which are directly made into their accounts and also the export incentives that they get.”
Tobacco Research Board’s head of plant breeding division Frank Magama said they have been working on varieties that have proved to be the best for the market.
“As a plant breeding division, we have been testing the varieties and I think it’s a lucrative business to venture into because a lot of farmers are now making a living out of it,” he said.
“This project, when it started, we only had one hectare under cigar wrapper, but now we have 30 hectares.”
Von Eicken, a German company, buys the cigar-wrapper from Burma Valley farmers and exports it to the Dominican Republic. This has brought relief to the industry as a major foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe.
Jennifer Jakanyi, a Burma farmer said cigar-wrapper farming was easy and required less labour.
“Cigar-wrapper has less labour, yet it’s lucrative and you don’t need to cut down trees since it doesn’t require fire to dry it,” she said.
However, another farmer said although they were earning a lot from tobacco farming, they still faced challenges like repairing the barns, as some of the farmers recklessly use them.