Farmers welcome tobacco transformation plan
Farmers have welcomed the Tobacco Transformation Plan, which is aimed at boosting production through local funding.
Government instituted a tobacco value addition and transformation roadmap under the National Value Chain Tobacco Transformation Plan last week, which is aimed at localising tobacco financing and transforming the industry into a US$5 billion industry by 2025.
The plan is also meant to increase tobacco production and productivity to 300 million kg annually, primarily through yield increases and post-harvest loss reduction while enhancing traceability, compliance and environmental stewardship.
The plan will also enhance value addition and beneficiation from the current 1 percent to 30 percent to generate US$5 billion by 2025, while exploring alternate and alternative crops, to enhance tobacco viability.
Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe president Mr George Seremwe said the plan will address challenges affecting the tobacco industry and benefit both the farmer and economy.
“This is a positive move,” he said. “The document can, however, be panel beaten to some up with positive results. There are a number of things that still need to be looked through for us to achieve the 300 million kg production as projected.
“The plan also requires farmers’ unions and farmers to be more organised in terms of achieving purchase power. If implemented well the plan will reduce side marketing and will cut the cost of production and reduce side marketing thereby attracting more investors to the industry.
“Farmers will be able to benefit from their hard work.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Dr Shadreck Makombe, said the plan was a positive development that would grow the industry if implemented properly.
“The transformation plan will allow farmers to retool and also realised profits from their tobacco,” he said.
“At the moment some farmers are suffering and failing even to buy equipment to boost production.
“Funding tobacco locally, is the best way to go as this will ensure farmers economically benefit from their crop.
“We are looking at getting more than US$50 million from the sale of tobacco this season and we will remain with a small percentage of the money locally.”
The bulk of the tobacco is funded through contract farming with the companies sourcing funding offshore.