Shisha tobacco sales stimulate excitement Shisha tobacco are varieties desired by the producers of tobacco products for shisha pipes, which use water filtering, and usually have extra flavours added. The product is generally air-cured with thinner leaves than the varieties that are flue-cured.

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

SALES of Shisha tobacco, which opened for the first time at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) in Harare yesterday, were met with excitement by farmers and buyers.

Shisha tobacco is proving to be popular in Zimbabwe and the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has licensed one company, Cavendish Lloyd Tobacco, to support Shisha tobacco production in the country.

Unlike cigarettes, this type of tobacco is consumed using a device called a hookah or water-pipe.

A hookah or water-pipe is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for heating or vaporising and then smoking the tobacco. An individual pulls from a pipe, and then the smoke is passed through a water basin, often glass-based, before inhalation.

Shisha production seeks to  transform the tobacco industry, improve the livelihoods of farmers and boost the economy.

There was a hive of activity at TSF where farmers from different parts of Zimbabwe were selling Shisha tobacco for the very first time in the country’s history.

Yesterday, the first bale fetched US$5 and the highest price was US$5,30.

So far, only Cavendish Lloyd Tobacco has been licensed by TIMB to contract and support Shisha tobacco production locally.

Shisha is a type of combustible tobacco that has low nicotine content, differentiating it from the traditional flue-cured Virginia tobacco.

A Mutorashanga farmer, Mr Moses Machine, said he was happy growing this type of tobacco, adding that there were many benefits associated with the crop.

Mr Machine said he expected to deliver 400 bales to the floors.

“Today I delivered 15 bales. There are several advantages associated with growing this type of crop. Plant population will double the Virginia tobacco. Shisha uses less fertiliser. Since it is the first year, we are not sure where the viability is, but with time we are going to have a proper analysis. There is use of less labour and fertilisers. In terms of costs of production, there is a difference compared to the Virginia one. There are plenty of good points but yes we may encounter challenges since it is the beginning,” he said.

“I recommend farmers to grow this type of tobacco; no curing using firewood hence it is cheap to cure. Farmers need to maximise production, air is the major source of the energy. Shisha tobacco production is a welcome development.”

A Marondera farmer, Mr Jayson Scott, said there is no nicotine in this type of tobacco and special handling is required.

“The tobacco needs very special attention because the plant or the leaf is very thin so if you don’t carefully handle it, the leaf itself breaks. I have delivered 15 bales and if everything goes well l will increase hectarage,” he said.

Mr Josh Makwenje, an agronomist, said prices set so far are good, recommending farmers to grow in smaller growing areas to avoid outbreaks of pests and diseases.

“Shisha tobacco is easier to grow compared to flue-cured tobacco. It requires less fertiliser than flue-cured tobacco. We are too specific about climate because in fast growing areas there is a tendency of spreading of diseases but in smaller growing areas it becomes clean,” he said.

Mr Makwenje recommended more farmers to venture into Shisha production.

Sales Supervisor at TIMB, Ms Pelagia Marumahoko, said they are expecting about 100 hectares for Shisha production this season and markets are readily available in Africa.

“We have licensed Cavendish Lloyd Tobacco to contract growers growing Shisha at the present moment. It doesn’t only contract our farmers but it also processes this tobacco locally. So far we have 12 farmers who grow Shisha tobacco throughout all the tobacco growing regions,” she said.

Ms Marumahoko said Shisha is just the same as Virginia tobacco, but the only difference is that Shisha doubles on plant population and does not require any topping.

She added that it also uses less fertilisers thereby reducing the cost of production and increasing farmers’ viability.

 Chemical applications for pest and insect control and growth period are just the same as other tobacco cultivars such as Virginia tobacco. The crop is reaped when the leaves have completely lost all the nitrogen and have fully ripened.

It is cured using the same flue-curing barns, temperature and humidity regimes for the Virginia flue-cured tobacco and it takes four to five days to complete curing. 

The cured leaf has to have low nicotine content to protect the smoker from inhaling huge amounts of nicotine since Shisha tobacco is about constant smoke inhalation in huge quantities.

You Might Also Like