Prioritise value addition, farmers urged

Staff Reporter

The tobacco auction season officially opened yesterday with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga urging farmers to prioritise value addition on the golden leaf.

The ceremony took place at the Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF).

In his keynote address, VP Chiwenga indicated that he was disheartened that 98% of the tobacco was being exported in semi-processed form and urged farmers to consider value addition for the crop.

“It is disheartening that we export 98% of our tobacco in semi-processed form, which means we are literally exporting jobs and value. Now we aim to increase production from the current 212 million kilogrammes to 300 million kilogrammes annually as stipulated in the government’s Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan. The plan also focuses on localising financing for the 150 000 debt-ridden small-scale producers. We can achieve this by injecting seed funds and attending to enablers thereof,” said Vice President.

He went on to urge all farmers and participants in the value chain addition to work together, to lead the transformation strategy through the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).


However, VP Chiwenga said he was pleased to note that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development was in advanced discussions for the value addition of tobacco with both local and foreign investors.

Additionally, VP Chiwenga also noted the growing concerns by farmers over increased cost of production.

“Government has noted the concerns that have been raised about growers facing viability challenges as a result of the increased cost of production.

“To alleviate that, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has increased consequently retention threshold from 75% to 85%,” said Vice President.

Meanwhile, Patrick Devenish, the chairman of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, said there was increased zeal by farmers to grow the crop, as 3,283 new growers were registered. He promised a timeous settling of farmer’s dues before asking them to immediately alert the board should they fail to get their money within 48 hours of sale.