CORESTA Meeting, Agronomy/Phytopathology, 2019, Victoria Falls, AP 01

The history of tobacco production in Zimbabwe - a synopsis

Tobacco Research Board, Harare, Zimbabwe

Tobacco is an extremely important crop in the economy of Zimbabwe and in the 2017-18 season, a record 252.5 million kg of tobacco with a value of $737.2 million was sold. This paper will consider the history of tobacco production in Zimbabwe and some pertinent factors that have led to the success of tobacco as a cash crop in the country. Organised cultivation of the golden leaf in the country dates back to the late 17th century although there are documented and folklore reports of Nicotiana rustica growing and consumption by the indigenous people prior to this. In the 1905-06 season, a Tobacco Tender Board was established and by 1924, the first tobacco research station had been established. In 1936, the Tobacco Marketing Act which provided for the formation of the Tobacco Marketing Board and the compulsory selling of tobacco through Auction Floors was promulgated. The Tobacco Research Board (TRB) was reconstituted under the Tobacco Research Act of 1950, with a mandate to direct, control and carry out tobacco research. This resulted in a vast improvement in the quality of the country’s tobacco and in 1963 the industry hosted the CORESTA Third World Tobacco Scientific Congress. TRB also hosted the 1994 CORESTA Congress. Research is continually being carried out to further improve the viability of tobacco production and the Zimbabwean industry is consistently making efforts to inculcate good agricultural practices at grower level to ensure continuity well into the future.