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Plant Breeding Division


Our Philosophy

The overall aim of the breeding program is to produce multi-disease resistant varieties that will meet grower and merchant requirements in a manner that ensures limited use of chemicals, is environmentally friendly and reduces production costs in the various growing regions of the country and beyond.


Tobacco strains bred

The Plant Breeding Division seeks to promote profitable and sustainable tobacco farming through:

  1. Continuous examination of existing varieties for any disease resistance gaps and changes in market-demand for specific cured leaf styles which may necessitate new breeding programmes.
  2. Developing and releasing varieties which are widely adaptable to meet specific grower requirements.
  3. Coordination and Promotion of stakeholder participation in the development and release of tobacco cultivars
  4. Maintaining a wide germplasm pool that can be exploited for variety improvement.
  5. Maintaining breeder seed stocks of high quality in quantities that ensure the unhindered production of commercial seed.
  6. Incorporation of cell and molecular biology tools (Marker Assisted Selection (MAS), Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) Analysis, Genotyping by sequencing (GBS) to facilitate novel traits discovery and also expedite the breeding process.
  7. Developing and improving Katambora grass varieties and promoting their use in tobacco farming systems
  8. Collaboration with fellow international tobacco and grass breeding institutions in the development and evaluation of varieties
  9. Continuous compilation and distribution of information on tobacco and grass varieties to growers and other stakeholders
  10. Advancing knowledge through scientific publications and scientific research through local, regional and international collaborations
  11. Conducting research into alternative uses of tobacco and alternative crops to tobacco that growers may need to adopt should a tobacco ban be effected in future.


Burley (air-cured)
Dark tobaccos (air-cured and fire-cured)
Dark tobaccos (air-cured and fire-cured)
Oriental (sun-cured)
Cigar wrapper (air-cured)
Grasses bred (Strains of Katambora Rhodes Grass) )

National Variety Testing Sites and schemes

(a) Initial Plant Breeding Agronomic trials (PABT) are tested at TRB facilities
StationTownGPS coordinatesPurpose
Kutsaga Research StationHarareMostly flue cured breeding trials
Banket Research StationBanketMostly Burley, Cigar wrapper, Dark Fire/Air tobaccos and rotational grass trials
Makoholi Research StationMasvingoMostly Oriental tobaccos and marginal testing site for drought tolerance and high temperatures
(b) Intermediate variety trial and Cooperative Cultivar trials
All promising experimental test hybrids are tested at various sites over seasons in the three main agroecological regions of the country before they can be released. Testing sites are on selected farms and also serve as demonstration centers for farmers. Some details of sites that have been in prominent use are given in table below
FarmerDistrict and farm nameType of trials
1J. KagellerTengwe (Oldonyo Farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
2C.AitchensonDoma (Impala Downs)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
3P. DupropolisCatherine Valley farm (Odzi)Demonstration plots
4L. GuildBurma Valley (Mapeto)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
5N. MostartTrelawney (Stockfields)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety
6B. StockilMutoko South (Kent farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
7A. MandaHwedza (Chakadenga farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
8D. MutwiwaHeadlands (Terrydan farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
8D. MutwiwaRusape (Valhalla farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
9C. DengaMt Darwin (Chaminuka Training College)Variety Demonstration plots
10Scion van RensburgMatepatepa (Piedmont farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
11S. GwazeGuruve (Tapiwanashe farm)Cooperative Cultivar trials and Variety Demonstration plots
12M. LudikActurus (Ludik farm)Soil borne disease trials

Farmer field variety discussion at Tapiwanashe farm in Guruve district

Regional partners for variety testing

A number of countries prefer some variety bred from Zimbabwe and also rely on the expertise of TRB. There are active programs to breed varieties for these countries and agronomic testing is both integral and mandatory for release in these countries.

OrganisationCountryType of tobacco
Tobacco Board of ZambiaZambiaFlue cured
Agricultural Research and extension TrustMalawiFlue cured and Burley
Mozambique Leaf TobaccoMozambiqueDark Air and Dark Fire
Tobacco Research Institute of TanzaniaTanzaniaFlue cured
National Tobacco Enterprise of EthiopiaEthiopiaFlue cured
Rwanda Mountain TeaRwandaFlue cured and Burley

Dr Cleopas Chinheya (TRB Plant pathologist; in hat), Dr. Frank Magama (TRB Plant Breeder) with Mrs Magdalena Raphael, Plant Breeder for the Tobacco Research Institute of Tanzania inspecting variety trials in Tabora district of Tanzania

International collaborations and variety testing

The Division undertakes bespoke and collaborative research for and with international partners involved in the global tobacco value chain. Agronomic trials are also conducted to adapt Kutsaga varieties in varied agroecological niches for the benefit of host countries. For more information on collaborations and testing Kutsaga-bred varieties please contact: fmagama@kutsaga.co.zw.

OrganisationCountryType of tobacco
TRASFORMATORI TABACCO ITALIA Soc. Coop. AgricolaItalyFlue cured
ProfiGen do Brasil LtdaBrazilFlue cured and Burley
Bergerac Seed and BreedingFranceDark Air and Dark Fire
Japan Tobacco InternationalJapanFlue cured and Burley
CORESTAFranceFlue cured and Burley

Mr. Enoch Mudzengere (TRB plant breeder) inspecting variety trials in Yuxi district of China

Scientists from Japan Tobacco visiting the collaborative Potato Virus Y (PVY) trial at Kutsaga Research Station, Harare, Zimbabwe. From left: Drs.- Paolo Donini,Christelle Bonnert, Hisashi Udagawa and Koga Kazuharu.

Dr Anna Malpica (Plant Breeder, Bergerac Seed and Breeding Co, France) inspecting the local trial version of the global low nicotine trials with Dr Frank Magama and Mr Ralph Ruzane at Banket Research Station in Zimbabwe.

International collaborations and variety testing

Tobacco Research Board has bred over 80 varieties of different strains of tobacco since its inception. It also has a world class collection of tobacco germplasm (old varieties, primitive tobacco, wild species, breeding lines, landraces etc.) with over 1000 accessions collected all over the world. See table below for the recent cultivars in production.
Note: Click on the variety for variety agronomic attributes (CAN WE IMBED THROUGH HYPERTEXT THE DEAR GROWERS FOR EACH VARIETY??). The table is not exhaustive, please email fmagama@kutsaga.co.zw to request older varieties, wild species and further variety information.

Flue curedBurleyOrientalDark tobaccoNematode suppressing grass varieties
K110Banket 127SamsunKDAC 008Katambora Rhodes Grass
KM10Banket A1O RK1KDFC 010G HR1
K RK 1Banket 102KDFC 070
K30B RK3
K34B RK5
K35B RK6
K36B RK7
K RK22
K RK23
K RK28
K RK62
K RK64
K RK66
K RK70
K RK71
K RK72
K RK73
K RK74
K RK75
K RK76