Registrations to produce leaf tobacco in Zimbabwe are down 16 percent following a growing season characterized by drought, falling prices and challenges obtaining foreign currency payments, reports The Herald.
As of Nov. 8, 136,762 farmers had registered to grow tobacco during the 2019–2020 season, down from 162,028 during the corresponding period last year, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).
In some areas last season, the crop succumbed to drought while in parts of the country, it suffered premature ripening, compromising quality and weight—and thus compensation.
Depressed prices during the season were compounded by rules preventing growers from receiving foreign currency payments in cash.
During the marketing season, prices are calculated in U.S. dollars, but farmers are paid the equivalent in local currency using the interbank exchange rate. Prices ranged between $2.99 per kg down to just $0.10 per kg depending on the quality of the crop.
Tobacco deliveries generated just over $530 million this year, compared to about $737 million last year.
TIMB Chief Executive Andrew Matibiri said grower registrations might still increase as farmers start planting their crops.