By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE says plans to transform the tobacco industry into a US$5 billion industry are in motion amid claims that the golden crop’s output achieved this year is in line with the projections.
According to the roadmap, tobacco production is set to increase to 300 million kg by 2025 in a move that will spur the sector into a US$5 billion industry through exports of tobacco value-added products.
“The nation is informed that there has been an increase in volume as a result of post-harvest loss reduction and yield increase. During the 2022/23 season a record 296.1 million kilogrammes of tobacco, worth US$896 million was produced.
“Of this production, A1 and A2 farmers contributed 153 320 472 kg and US$480 548 375 of total production, being 52% and 54% the value respectively, attesting to the success of the Land Reform Program,” Lands and Agriculture Minister, Anxious Masuka revealed in the latest update.
He said the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board(TIMB) introduced the compliance Administration Framework in 2022 to ensure that farmers received a minimum input package from contractors.
Additionally, Statutory Instrument 77 of 2022 was introduced in 2022 to criminalise side-marketing of crops.
“Regarding post-harvest loss reduction, there are ongoing farmer field days, and training, on harvesting, curing, storage, and use of more fuel–efficient barns, to reduce losses from 15% to 10%.
“The Tobacco Research Board (TRB) developed a fuel-efficient “Rocket Barn” and “the Kutsaga Counter Current 1 barn” which reduced firewood usage by 50%. Research on alternative fuel types is ongoing at the TRB,” said Masuka.
On tobacco exports, Masuka advised that this season, 145 million kg have been exported at an average price of US$4.97/kg, compared to 122 million kg at US$4.54/kg the previous year amid indications that there are opportunities to increase the level of value addition and beneficiation of tobacco into cut rag and cigarette production from 2% of tobacco produced to 30%.
“The construction of a new cigarette manufacturing plant and cut rag processing factories is underway and this will result in an increase in processing capacity by 50% in the first half of 2024,” he added.