Zim targets 240m kg tobacco

HARARE - Zimbabwe is targeting to produce nearly 240 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco in the 2014/15 season on the back of increased cropping.

This comes after the country surpassed a targeted 200 million kg this year — the first time in a decade — to produce 216 million kg of the golden leaf.

Andrew Matibiri, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive, said Zimbabwe is targeting to surpass an all-time peak of 237 million kg registered in the year 2000.

“Over 75 percent of 106 000 registered farmers have already done preparations for the upcoming farming season and would be ready to plant their crop either early or mid-October,” he said, adding that “the crop will grow by a further 10 percent next year”.

Matibiri noted that tobacco production in the southern African country — disrupted by the land reform programme aimed at redistributing land to the landless — was steadily growing.

“In 2009 we produced 58,5 million kg valued at $174,5 million and the figure jumped to 123,5 million kg at $355,7 million in 2010,” he said.

Zimbabwe recorded 132,5 million kg of tobacco in 2011, 144,5 million kg in 2012 and 166,5 million kg in 2013 valued at $361,5 million, $540 million and $629 million respectively.

According to industry experts, the resurgence in the sector is being spurred by new farmers joining the tobacco sector since the adoption of the multi-currency system in 2009.

Figures indicate that there are currently nearly 110 000 small-scale tobacco farmers compared to about 91 160, who had registered by the same period last year of which 39,5 percent are women.

The majority of those are under contract farming and this has seen many foreign companies, enter into farming deals with local growers who cannot afford inputs and others costs.

Tobacco is one of the country’s top foreign currency earners and accounts for a tenth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Stakeholders in the tobacco industry believe the increase in production bodes well for the country whose economy is slumping due to a high import bill, deflation, high unemployment, low capacity utilisation and lack of foreign direct investments.

Matibiri said due to the country’s high tobacco quality, the golden leaf was in high demand in over 90 countries worldwide.

“The international market likes our tobacco because it has good blending qualities,” he said.

Zimbabwe mainly exports its tobacco to China, South Africa, Belgium, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Egypt, Montenegro and Russia.


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