Govt targets increased revenues from tobacco
Harare (New Ziana) – Cabinet on Tuesday approved a new tobacco value chain transformation plan which targets a $5billion tobacco industry and value chain by 2025 through increased production and exports.
The plan also targets to increase the level of value addition and beneficiation of tobacco from 2 percent of total tobacco produced to 30 percent.
“The strategic objectives of the Plan are to localise the funding of tobacco to complement external funders, to raise tobacco production and productivity from 262 million kilogrammes to 300 million kilogrammes by 2025 and to diversify and increase the production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis and increase their contribution to the farmers’ incomes to 25 percent by 2025,” Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said.
“The immediate objective is to increase tobacco production and productivity through increasing the yield per unit, increasing the area under crop and minimizing losses. The above measures are being taken because the country is not getting maximum benefit from its tobacco crop in terms of value addition and beneficiation.”
Mutsvangwa added; “The initiatives should contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product growth, foreign currency generation and employment creation, thereby raising household incomes in pursuit of Vision 2030.”
She said the diversification and increased production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis would also be pursued.
“The Tobacco Research Board is already conducting research on alternate crops such as Chia, industrial hemp and sesame, as well as other types of tobacco such as Shisha, which is very popular in the Middle East.
“Research is also being conducted into the extraction of high-value compounds from tobacco, such as nicotine, solanesol and edible oil. Preliminary studies have already been done on the extraction of tobacco edible oil and identified varieties that could be used for oil extraction. All these efforts are meant to increase the income that accrues directly to the farmers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa said over 67 000 farmers had already registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season, compared to the 57 252 farmers who had registered at the same time last year.
Cumulative tobacco sales as of 31 August, 2021 were 208 816 935 kilogrammes with prices being 12 percent firmer than last year, she said.
“These deliveries have already surpassed 184 million kilogrammes received last year by 13.5 percent. The value of the tobacco deliveries is also 28 percent higher than last year,” Mutsvangwa said.
“As part of the localization of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is contracting 50 000 ha, up from the 12 000 ha contracted last year. This is estimated to cost USD 60 million, and will be financed by local banks, including the Agricultural Finance Company.”