|Matabeleland potential tobacco growing zone — expert|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 19:25|
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MATABELELAND region has potential to become a tobacco growing zone although lack of adequate rain is still a major drawback, an official has said.Tobacco farming has been mainly confined to natural regions One, Two and Three where average annual rainfall is enough to sustain the crop. However, trial runs by some farmers in the region have shown that the crop can do well in the region.
Speaking at Dunroaming farm at Rosebank, Umguza an agronomist with the Tobacco Research Centre, Mr Chapman Koga, said it was encouraging that farmers in the region where showing interest in growing the cash crop.
The farm belongs to Mr Davis Mafurirano.
“It is historical that Matabeleland farmers have shown interest in tobacco growing which usually is favourable for regions 1, 2 and 3. This farmer has shown that using irrigation as a supplement for less rainfall has really helped as their yields are of top grade and his budget is within range,” Mr Koga said.
He said the country was set to realise more than 150 million kilogrammes of tobacco and the coming in of the region into tobacco farming was set to boost output in the future.
“This year we are targeting 150 million kilogrammes of tobacco and if Matabeleland farmers take part, this can be increased and help boost export earnings as 90 percent of the crop is exported,” he said.
Mr Koga however urged farmers in the region who are interested in tobacco farming to have their soils tested as the crop can only do well in specific types of soils.
“All those farmers who are interested in tobacco farming should get in touch with the TRC so that we can test their soils if they are suitable, by engaging farmers in Matabeleland we hope to increase the production level of tobacco nationwide, so we can regain the third position of a country producing tobacco worldwide,” he said.
He said the TRC would do an extensive training for all farmers so that information could be disseminated to all parts of the region.
Mr Koga said: “We will do extensive training on all the stages of tobacco growing so that farmers will have good knowledge on how to grow it (tobacco) in this region.”
Mr Mafurirano said he ventured into tobacco farming after realising that some crops were not giving him desired yields.
“I ventured into tobacco farming after l realised that some crops were not doing well but I have noted that tobacco farming is viable in the area.”