Climate change cited for drop of tobacco production in Chunya

17Oct 2020
The Guardian
Climate change cited for drop of tobacco production in Chunya

​​​​​​​CHUNYA Tobacco Cooperative Union (CHUTCU) in Mbeya Region has linked the fall in tobacco production in the last farming season with bad weather caused by climate change.

CHUTCU manager Juma Mohammed said a big percentage of the tobacco produced lacked quality due to rains that was difficult for the farmers to dry.

He said in the 2018/19 farming season, the target was to produce 9.92 million tons, but only 6 million tons was produced.

“In the last season tobacco farmers incurred great loss because the spent a lot in cultivation including the purchase of input, including fertilizer that was swept away by rain water, and some who harvested were unable to dry it,” he said.

He said during the period tobacco price fell from USD 1.6 per kg down to USD 1.33 and the problem was attributed to falling quality and weight of the crop.

In the circumstances, Mohamed said n this season they have made strategic preparations including the ready availability of inputs, in particular fertilizer and seeds.

He said inputs and seeds in this season will reach 7,500 farmers in 23 primary cooperatives in the district.

Some farmers in the district appealed to the government to assist them in finding reliable markets for the crop, adding that last season they hardly made any profit.

Salome Kilasi, one of the tobacco farmers called on the government to provide them with fertilizer much earlier to avoid unscrupulous agents who provide them with counterfeit fertilizer.

She also called on agricultural experts from the local council to go to the farms to identify challenges facing them and find solutions thereof.

Tanzania is second in Africa in tobacco production after Malawi. However, despite high production of tobacco, it remains a poor country and tobacco farmers are worse off while the country loses more than 61,000 hectares of forest annually due to tobacco growing and curing.

According to the Tanzania Tobacco Board production of the cash crop had been on the decline since the 2013/2014 farming season.

Production of tobacco declined from 105 million kilograms in 2013/2014 to 93 million kilograms in 2014/2015. Production of the crop also decreased from 72 million kilograms in 2015/2016 to 60 kilograms in 2016/2017 and to further 50.5 million kilograms in 2017/2018.