Grower registrations for Zimbabwe’s 2019 flue-cured tobacco marketing season, at 169,772, are up by 46 percent on those of the previous season, 116,525, according to a story in The Herald citing figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

Of the registered growers, 41,021 were said to be ‘new’.

In 2018, flue-cured tobacco deliveries reached a record high of 252 million kg, but it is unlikely that this year will see an increase on that volume commensurate with the increase in registered growers.

In part this is because it is difficult to know how accurate registration figures are. For instance, a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation story at the end of last year put the number of registered growers at 103,000, though, given when the story was published, it is possible that this was the number of registered growers who had delivered tobacco for sale.

More significantly, though, is the fact that the increase in registrations is likely to be largely due to administrative changes. That is, the increase in registrations has been influenced by the need for growers to obtain individual numbers so that they can benefit from the introduction of foreign currency incentives.

Changes to the way that payments are made to growers have made it difficult for them to share money after selling their crops because they are no longer paid cash. The money is now being deposited in bank accounts or paid through EcoCash.

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