Tobacco production and marketing trends in Zimbabwe in the last two decades
An overview of trends and challenges in flue-cured tobacco production in Zimbabwe is given. Following the country’s independence in 1980 there was an initial drop in flue-cured tobacco production and number of farmers. This was reversed quickly such that by the late 1980s annual production was over 120 million kg, hectarage was over 57 000 and the number of growers had stabilised at around 1 500 large-scale growers. During the 1990s a slow land resettlement programme saw the number of growers rising to around 6 500, with about 1 700 large-scale commercial growers by 2000. The tobacco area planted (107 000 ha) in 2014 surpassed the peak of 1998 of 92 000 ha. Annual sales reached a record of 237 million kg in 2000. The period 2001-2008 was largely dominated by the land reform programme. The number of growers increased rapidly thereby increasing the production potential. Prior to land reform, more than 95 % of the total flue-cured tobacco production came from the large-scale growers who raised production finances on their own. During this period, production fell to a 30-year low of 48 million kg. In 2003 the introduction of the dual selling system where auction sales would operate alongside contract production and purchasing systems were recommended to and approved by government. The period 2009-2018 was characterised by the introduction of new policies, monetary deregulation and an improvement in financing of production. A record 145 725 farmers registered to grow tobacco resulting in a new record crop of 252 million kg in 2018. Challenges that were faced in dealing with the resurgence of production included the large number of farmers, funding of production, compliance, need for increased training and extension services, deforestation, and lack of marketing skills.