Call for value addition in tobacco production

By Tanyaradzwa Kutaura

Vice President Dr Constatino Chiwenga has urged stakeholders in the tobacco industry to devise mechanisms aimed at promoting value addition of the golden leaf as the country seeks to retain more value lost through raw exports.
Addressing farmers during the official opening of the 2024 tobacco selling season in Harare this Wednesday, Dr Chiwenga said the country has set sights towards promoting value addition.

“Government is concerned that we still export ninety-eight percent of our tobacco in raw form, in the process exporting jobs value.
“In tandem with our value addition and beneficiation thrust, the Second Republic has laid down a comprehensive plan in the tobacco value chain.
“I am pleased with current investments in tobacco processing plants in the country to give impetus to value addition from the current two percent of tobacco produced to over 30 percent.
“As government we are creating an enabling environment for entities interested in value addition and beneficiation of Zimbabwean tobacco in the broader framework of a private sector led economy,” he said.
The country has over the past few years improved tobacco production with farmers producing at least 211 million kilograms of the golden leaf in 2021, 212 million kilograms in 2022.

Meanwhile Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board Patrick Devenish bemoaned the effects of climate change on the country saying the tobacco industry has not been spared from such.
“The just ended production season was one such year which the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe predicted a strong El Niño event occurring between October 2023 and March 2024,” he said.
“The tobacco production sector was not spared as a total of 113 101 ha was planted in comparison to 117 645 ha planted at the same time last year. The negative four percentage variance was because of delayed rains that were received which affected the delayed timing for planting for the dryland crop.
“The late rains caused a delayed establishment of crops for small-scale farmers who contribute over 70% of the national yield. Consequently, there was a decline in volume produced per hectare.
“For this marketing season, the number of registered growers is 115,114 compared to 148,300 in the prior year. The due diligence undertaken by the Board to ensure compliance with the registration process led to the decline.
“For this season, the Board has licensed two auction floors, and these are, Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) and Premier Tobacco Auction Floor (PTAF),” he said.

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