Zimbabwe tobacco crop halves

Zimbabwe's tobacco crop this year is half that of last year, but there is still no consensus on the size of the crop. The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association says it is about 85 million kgs, down from 165 million last year, while the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board estimates the crop at 93 million kgs.

The ZTA says the difference on the size of the crop is centred on the estimate of the crop that has been produced by smallholder farmers. More than 20 000 smallholder farmers registered for 2003 but only 12 858 submitted estimates of their crop.

Though Zimbabwe remains the biggest producer of flue-cured tobacco in Africa, it is the only country whose production has dropped. Kenya increased its crop by 1 percent from 10 million kgs to 11 million kgs.

Malawi's crop rose to 15.7 million kgs from 11.2 million kgs while South Africa's crop rose by 3 percent from 25 million kgs to 28 million kgs.

Zambia's crop increased from 4.5 million kgs to 6.9 million kgs and that of Uganda went up from 20 million kgs to 22 million kgs.

Tanzania had the highest increase of 7 percent, from 23 million kgs to 30 million kgs. Zimbabwe's crop for 2004 could increase slightly as more smallholder farmers are expected to enter the field.

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