Cabinet approves the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan

Staff Reporter

Cabinet yesterday approved the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan as presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Honourable Anxious Masuka.

This was revealed by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Minister Monica Mutsvangwa during a Post Cabinet Press Briefing in Harare yesterday.

“The nation is informed that the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan aims at transforming the tobacco value chain into a US$5 billion industry by 2025 through localisation of tobacco financing, increased production and productivity, value addition and beneficiation, and exports of cigarettes. The initiatives should contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product growth, foreign currency generation and employment creation, thereby raising household incomes in pursuit of Vision 2030,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

The Minister said the strategic objectives of the Plan are among others, to localise the funding of tobacco to complement external funders, to raise tobacco production and productivity from 262 million kilogrammes to 300 million kilogrammes by 2025, to diversify and increase the production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis and increase their contribution to the farmers’ incomes to 25 percent by 2025,  to increase the level of value addition and beneficiation of tobacco from 2 percent of total tobacco produced to 30 percent in order to increase exports of cigarettes and to create an enabling environment that incentivizes investors to set up shop in the country instead of exporting raw or semi processed tobacco.

She highlighted that the immediate objective is to increase tobacco production and productivity through increasing the yield per unit, increasing the area under crop and minimizing losses.

The above measures, she said, are being taken because the country is not getting maximum benefit from its tobacco crop in terms of value addition and beneficiation.

Minister Mutsvangwa further informed the public that the Tobacco Research Board is already conducting research on alternate crops such as Chia, Industrial Hemp and Sesame, as well as other types of tobacco such as Shisha, which is very popular in the Middle East.  Research is also being conducted into the extraction of high-value compounds from tobacco, such as nicotine, solanesol and edible oil.

Preliminary studies have already been done on the extraction of tobacco edible oil and identified varieties that could be used for oil extraction. All these efforts are meant to increase the income that accrues directly to farmers.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe sold 186.6 million kg of leaf tobacco valued at US$515.9 million during the 2021 marketing season.