Tobacco sector growing

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GOVERNMENT has applauded the continued growth and success of the tobacco production sector as evidenced by the increase in production levels. 

Presenting the 20th Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the marketing of the golden leaf is a success. 

“The Tobacco Marketing season has also recorded good results, with a total of over 152,8 million kilogrammes having been sold to realise more than US$415,8 million, compared to the 124,5 million kilogrammes sold for US$296,9 million in 2020,” she said. 

“The country’s average prices at US$2,72 per kg remain firmer than those prevailing in the region.”

Locally produced tobacco remains in demand because of its unique flavour and is mostly used for blending.

Zimbabwe Progressive Tobacco Farmers Association president Mutandwa Mutasa said farmers should take advantage of the demand for locally produced tobacco.

“Our tobacco will always have a market. It is important that farmers look at how they can benefit from producing the crop beyond the offloading bay. Of late, farmers have been crying foul over the prices offered by buyers. As we move to improve on quality, we should also be thinking of how we can value-add the leaf,” said Mutasa.

He said the union is engaging stakeholders on how farmers can get high returns from producing tobacco.

“With time, we should get to a stage where farmers will be selling processed tobacco,” he said.

“As a union, we are proposing, in the long run, that farmers be levied five percent which will be used to buy a threshing machine that will be administered by TIMB.

“With a threshing machine in place, farmers will be able to sell a processed leaf.

“We envisage a situation where farmers will now be bringing their crops to be graded and then threshed before they sell it to ensure that they get more for their crop.”

Efforts continue to be made to ensure tobacco growers benefit from producing the crop.

Mutasa said efforts should continue to be made to ensure local farmers fully benefit from growing the crop.

“Money supply should be improved at banks to cut out queues and further delays to farmers at the auction floors,” he said.

“Of concern to the industry is that the Zimbabwe product is highly sought after but surprisingly, we are only a billion-dollar industry in a US$600 billion global industry. Checks and balances need to be made for far away markets. Government needs to initiate programmes that enhance beneficiation of the crop,” he said.

Mutasa urged stakeholders to continue supporting smallholder farmers.

“We still need to help smallholder farmers who constitute more than 80 percent of the crop farmers, to be capitalised in order to improve the crop quality,” he said.

“The legislature needs to support these farmers by setting up irrigation schemes and to push for the use of drip irrigation schemes as being done by the industry regulator TIMB.

“Dams, boreholes and such infrastructure should be developed to give access and chance to these farmers to produce either an irrigated crop or an early planted crop to improve quality.”

Mutasa said efforts should continue to be made to ensure local farmers fully benefit from growing the crop.

Zimbabwe exports 98 percent of semi-finished tobacco products, with the rest consumed locally.

Countries such as China, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Germany and Belgium are some of the importers of Zimbabwe’s tobacco.

China, which started importing tobacco from Zimbabwe in the 1980s, has remained the country’s biggest buyer. 

Traditionally, China was interested only in the pale-to-lemon coloured tobacco produced mostly under irrigation in the Highveld areas of Marondera, Wedza, Beatrice and Harare South.

However, in the past 10 years, China widened its scope to include all quality tobacco that is produced in Zimbabwe.

In Africa, Zimbabwe’s tobacco is sold to South Africa, Angola, Malawi, Tanzania, Lesotho, Botswana and the DRC.

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