The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has partnered with an agricultural company to train farmers to diversify their production into growing a new export crop called chia and boost their income base.

In a bid to ensure tobacco farmers have an alternative income all year round, the TIMB is promoting diversification in the growing of tobacco.

The tobacco regulatory board has partnered Agric-Company in the production of the newly introduced crop to train field and technical officers so that they impart skills and knowledge to tobacco farmers.

“We find that it is a good alternative for tobacco farmers since its grown in January and April which normally is during marketing season. Our major aim is diversification with tobacco,” said TIMB spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo.

The TIMB technical staff went through training in Glen Forest where chia technical representatives explained the importance and benefits of the new crop to Zimbabwe.

Chia is a wonderful back up, it allows tobacco growers to have something to generate income from, it grows faster, especially under drip irrigation, it’s cheaper and less labour intensive, it has a lot of by-products for export so we believe this will achieve the intended results of diversification,” noted one of the chia representatives.

The export crop, which is harvested within 120 days, produces three to four thousand kilogrammes per hectare and good quality chia which has a ready market can fetch between 70 cents to $1.24 cents per kilogramme.