The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board on Tuesday said it will this month begin disbursing a $200 000 revolving fund that will empower farmers to construct new rocket bans for curing tobacco.
The new bans copied from Malawi will use half the firewood farmers are using at the moment to cure tobacco.
TIMB chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa told New Ziana that the rocket bans will go a long way in reducing deforestation.
“We have a $200 000 revolving fund to enable farmers to construct rocket bans. The fund will be rolled out in June and all farmers countrywide will benefit,” she said.
She said communal farmers are using substandard and makeshift bans, and that is affecting the quality of tobacco being brought for sale.
At the close of the 2012/ 13 marketing season, 166,5 million kilogrammes of tobacco had been sold at an average price of US$3,70 per kilogramme, realising US$616,1 million in sales.
TIMB has since said it expects 10 percent more tobacco to be sold this year.
Government set this year’s output at 170 million kilogrammes after many farmers turned to tobacco, abandoning other cash crops which do not have attractive producer prices.
Since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies, the tobacco industry has become one of the fastest to recover from the economic meltdown of the past decade. The sector has been on a rebound as 103 941 farmers registered to sell tobacco this season.
Many farmers have been shifting to tobacco due to the favourable prices.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s major agricultural exports, accounting for 10, 7 percent of gross domestic product.
Export destinations for Zimbabwean tobacco include Belgium, United Arab Emirates, China, Sudan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Montenegro and Russia. Tobacco is expected to show a further increase for the fourth successive year, this bods well for Zimbabwe’s economy which is expected to grow by 6, 3 percent this year driven mainly by mining and agricultural sector.
The agricultural sector is expected to grow by 9 percent and this growth is expected to be driven largely by the tobacco sector. – New Ziana.