Contract tobacco growers hopeful at ZLT auction floors

Staff Reporter


As the tobacco auction season commences at the Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco (ZLT) auction floors in Karoi, Mashonaland West, contracted farmers are filled with optimism despite effects of the El Nino drought during the 2023/24 farming season.


Speaking with this publication at the ZLT auction floors, farmers expressed their gratitude towards their contracting companies, highlighting the crucial support that enabled them to produce tobacco this season.


Martin Svosve, a farmer from Hurungwe who planted 55,000 tobacco, plants on 3,7 hectares, emphasized the importance of this support.


"The El Niño-induced drought was a significant challenge for us. The Presidential irrigation schemes and the inputs provided by Atlas, especially during these tough economic times, prices were beyond our reach, it would have been difficult without their assistance.


“We are grateful for contract farming which allowed us to cultivate tobacco this season, because despite the drought, we managed to produce a decent yield thanks to the support we received.  We are looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labour pay off as we have high expectations for the outcome of this auction." Svosve added.


The sentiment was echoed by Samuel Gasva, a farmer from Magunje who managed to plant 1.5 hectares of tobacco through contract farming.


"Atlas's support was invaluable. Without their help, financing our operations would have been nearly impossible. Their support ensured that we could plant and maintain our crops despite the unfavorable weather conditions,” Gasva said.


Atlas Operations Manager, Taurai Jemedze elaborated on the company's broader strategy to mitigate drought risks.


“We are committed to supporting our farmers, regardless of the challenges. We operate in various other tobacco-producing areas such as Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, and Manicaland as this is in line with the Second Republic’s efforts of decentralisation.

This geographic spread is a key part of our drought mitigation strategy. Additionally, some of our growers have invested in irrigation infrastructure, providing a long-term solution to drought risks,” Jemedze added.


Meanwhile, at the ZLT auction floors in Mashonaland West, Karoi, the anticipation is palpable. Farmers are hopeful that their tobacco will fetch good prices, compensating for the challenges they faced during the growing season. The support from contracting companies like Atlas and ELT has been instrumental in maintaining their productivity and optimism.