Zim targets US$60bn tobacco industry Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri

Precious Manomano Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe is aiming to create a US$60 billion tobacco industry by 2028 through increased value addition of the golden leaf.

Presently, Government is working towards increasing processing and value addition of tobacco from two percent to more than
30 percent as a way of boosting earnings.

Currently, Zimbabwe earns slightly above US$1 billion from its annual tobacco exports, which amounts to six percent of the global market.

Speaking after touring Kutsaga, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said the tobacco that is produced is worth over US$60 billion when fully processed across the value chain.

“In terms of the value transformation strategy, we must tap into the value of our tobacco. We understand that most of our tobacco is exported and the strategy is to tap into that value chain. We are happy that some are doing cigars, some little value addition in terms of cigarette production. The strategy we have as a Government is really to ensure that we encourage investments in proper value addition so that we don’t export our raw materials,” he said.

Kutsaga chief executive officer Dr Frank Magama said the board is now breeding tobacco seeds for international markets.

“We have trials that are happening in Italy, Brazil, China and our varieties are also grown in China. The direction that we take from the Government, in terms of breeding, is that we must make sure that we have quality products. We excel in tobacco, so our products are now found in the region where we are able to earn foreign currency for the country,” he said. Recently, Kutsaga Tobacco Research Board introduced climate-smart tobacco varieties to enable growers to continue realising good harvests despite climate change and new pathogens.

The new tobacco genetic varieties for this season are T78, T79, T80, and T81.

The country exports 98 percent of tobacco to many countries in its raw form, missing out on profits from value addition.

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