Firm launches $660 million tobacco inputs scheme for smallholder farmers

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

INDIGENOUS Ethical Leaf Tobacco (ELT) has launched an historic $660 million tobacco input scheme for smallholder farmers throughout the country.

The project labelled, The Gold Class Scheme, will see long standing farmers receiving an improved package of inputs while a huge number of new contract farmers is expected to join in.

Ethical Leaf Tobacco’s $660 million Gold Class Scheme has been fragmented into four groups, Gold being farmers who are capable of producing and selling 1 000 plus kilogrammes of tobacco.

Diamond Class comprises farmers who could reach 700 plus kgs, Silver Class (500kgs) and less than 500ks for Bronze Class.

“ELT’s input scheme guarantees provision of inputs as well as working capital,” company chief executive, Andrew Mupfawa told the media Friday.

“Farmers will receive personalised agronomy services, to ensure that there is top-quality production which will translate to top prices come selling season.

“In this scheme, ELT will also consider project proposals from farmers. For instance, irrigation and machinery support, and that the driving force behind ELT is to uplift the marginalised smallholder farmers both socially and economically as well as to generate good value.”

Apart from providing inputs, ELT will also provide insurance and logistics.

“Insurance division ensures that all farmers are protected against risk, in the form of erratic weather patterns or fire, the logistics division is responsible for making sure that the farmers deliver their tobacco to the auction floors timeously, safely and effortlessly,” he said.

“ELT does this with the determination farmers will produce the best crop they possibly can.”

During this current tobacco selling, ETL successfully opened doors to a new tobacco sales floor in Marondera town to serve farmers in Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces.

Within four years, ETL has grown to be the largest indigenous owned tobacco farming contractor in Zimbabwe.