ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa: Tobacco farming in Zimbabwe
Growing conditions and growing area
- This accounts for 30 % of the country forex earnings and 12% of GDP.
- It employs over 300 000 people.
- Region 2 major growing area.
- Rainfall 700-1000 mm and temperature is 21°C
- Soils are well drained sandy soils.
- Plant seeds in nurseries that are fertile.
- The seedbeds are mulched to retain moisture.
- Tools are washed in formalin to protect seedlings from diseases and fumigation is also done to kill pests.
- Ploughed fields are ridged in preparation for transplanting. This is done in September-October.
- Seedlings are transplanted to the fields and irrigating is done.
- Weeds are controlled by spraying or physical weeding by hand.
- Harvesting is done by hand when the crop is ripe.
- Crop ripens at 2 levels per week, the leaves turn golden in colour.
- Tractor collects the harvested leaves to a barn.
Processing and marketing
- Tobacco processing is called curing, which is the controlled removal of moisture from the leaf.
- Flue curing occurs in barns by use of pipes carrying steam around the barn called flues.
- The steam in the flues raises barn temperature.
- Barns are not to be over-packed as heat would not be evenly distributed.
- Leaves wither slowly and become tender.
- Sun and fire curing is done on racks in the open.
- Sorting the leaves is next done on the basis of type, colour, size, texture and blemish.
- Packing occurs to transport the tobacco to auction floors for sale.
- About 70 countries pass through tobacco sales floors annually.
- World anti-tobacco lobby threatening viability of the crop-smoking causes lung cancer and respiratory complications.
- Competition from other producers notably Brazil and Russia.
- Unpredictable prices on market.
- Increasing costs of labour which is now highly unionized.
- Coal prices are also increasing or there are coal shortages from Hwange.
- Fertiliser costs are sky-rocketing, affecting not just tobacco farming but the whole agriculture sector.
- Prolonged rains or very wet seasons reduce quality and output.
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