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Zimbabwean farmers halting cotton production to grow tobacco

Cotton farmers in Zimbabwe have been shifting their interests to the tobacco industry in a bid to reduce cotton prices in the country

The number of tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe has been rising each year and there are now more than 19,470 farmers who have listed for tobacco this season, with the number expected to continue increasing.

“Farmers will continue shifting to tobacco as it is the highly paying crop at the moment. As long as cotton prices remain suppressed, farmers will continue to look for other alternative crops of which tobacco is one of them,” Zimbabwe commercial farmers union vice president, Johnson Mapira said.

“Farming is a business and the farmer will only grow the crop which gives him profits,” Mapira added.

In the past season cotton production in Zimbabwe did not reach 250,000 tonnes, which was the desired target.

Midway Bhunu, an agricultural economist, said although cotton farmers were shifting to tobacco, they have other factors to consider about growing the crop.

"These farmers should consider their agro-ecological regions, investment in infrastructure such as barns and also the knowledge of growing the crop," Bhunu said.