Elita Chikwati recently in Burma Valley
Zimbabwe is now producing cigar wrapper tobacco, becoming the third African country after Cameroon and Kenya to produce the high value brand.
The tobacco is produced by farmers in Burma Valley, Manicaland.
Addressing farmers attending the official opening of the 2017 cigar wrapper marketing season at Mapeto Farm in Burma Valley, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and House of Assembly representative for Mutare South, Cde Nyasha Chikwinya, said she was glad that women were also producing the high value crop.
“I am glad that women are also participating in the production of the cigar wrapper tobacco which brings in foreign currency,” she said. “Farmers in Burma Valley have proved that the crop can be grown locally. We should all aim to bring in foreign currency so that we can boost our economy.”
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa said the variety had been successfully introduced by a German company, Von Eicken.
The company has already manufactured cigar cigarettes using 100 percent tobacco from Burma Valley.
“TIMB welcomed the introduction of cigar wrapper tobacco production in Zimbabwe and it is worth noting that Zimbabwe is the third African country to venture into the production of highly valued crop,” she said.
“I am pleased that small scale farmers in this area have produced cigar wrapper tobacco at a time when demand for the crop is high.”
The first bale of cigar wrapper tobacco was bought on Thursday at $6 per kilogramme, with the number of growers of such tobacco having risen to 28 from 14 last year.
“Last season, 10 154 kg of cigar wrapper tobacco was sold, with farmers earning $23 000 at an average price of $2,23 per kg,” said Mrs Chinamasa. “To encourage the production of the tobacco, TIMB has been registering cigar wrapper tobacco farmers for free, while the Tobacco Research Board has been giving the farmers seed for free.”
Cigar wrapper tobacco is being sold through decentralised contract sales being conducted at Mapeto Farm in Burma Valley. Cigar wrapper does well in sandy loam soils where most grain crops would require a lot of fertilisers.
Von Eicken Company representative, Mr Andrew Edmundson said they had also sponsored production of Burley tobacco.
Burma valley farmer Mr Samson Mwachenu said he started growing cigar wrapper tobacco last year.