tobacco selling 2011.jpgThe Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) says the increased output from crops such as maize and tobacco was behind the success story of the agriculture sector in 2011.

Agriculture emerged as one of the nation’s leading economic performers in 2011, witnessing a surge in production of crops such as tobacco and maize.

Tobacco raked in US$375 million from 133 million kilogrammes this year up from 123,4 million kilogrammes in 2010.

Maize yields increased from 1,000,328 tonnes to 1,000,451 tonnes, aiding the resuscitation of a national strategic grain reserve.

Sugar production rose from 333 000 tonnes to 370 000 tonnes.

On the downward side was cotton and wheat production. 

Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development indicate that wheat output declined from 41 500 tonnes to an estimated 40 000 tonnes while cotton output was down by an estimated 20 000 metric tonnes.

ZFU Director, Mr Paul Zakaria said 2011 saw farmers getting more organised in a bid to overcome the challenges affecting them while stepping up crop production.

Mr Zakaria however noted that yields are still lower than expected as a result of low quality of crops.

Farmers also had difficulties in accessing adequate private sector financing in 2011 and Mr Zakaria called for government to increase funding to the sector.

In 2012, the agriculture sector is projected to grow by 11,6% due to anticipated increases in tobacco, cotton maize and soya beans production.