August 31, 2019

Future not bleak for tobacco

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

DESPITE low producer prices for tobacco in the just ended 2019 selling season, which left many farmers in Zimbabwe disgruntled, all hope is not lost for them.

Director of the Tobacco Industry Development Support Institute for Southern Africa, Jeffrey Takawira says although tobacco prices dropped around the world, the future is still bright for farmers.

“The dropping of tobacco prices on the global market is not a new phenomenon and as long as there is a marketplace price, instability is bound to occur,” said Takawira.

Instead of worrying about price fluctuations, Takawira said farmers should be more concerned about international bodies lobbying for the ban of tobacco.

“The biggest threat to our tobacco crop is the World Health Organisation driven anti-tobacco sentiment with regards to smoking. We believe that the argument is warped as it pays total disregard to the economic benefits that accrue to tobacco growing countries,” he said.

Takawira said policy inconsistency is hurting the tobacco sector, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reneging on its earlier commitment to pay 50 percent of the tobacco crop in foreign currency during the 2019 selling season.

Due to the pricing models and unclear methods of payment, some tobacco farmers say they might not go back to the fields this season.

The golden leaf is Zimbabwe’s second foreign currency earner after gold, and rakes in over US$ 1 billion annually.

A reduction in hectarage of the crop is sad news for the southern African country’s economy.

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