HARARE-- Zimbabwe produced a new record high 252.5 million kilogrammes of tobacco during the 2017/18 cropping season, topping the 236 million kg achieved in the year 2000 and representing a 34 per cent increase from last year.
Addressing a workshop on tobacco production hereThursday, The Parliamentary Secretary of the Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Ministry, Ringson Chitsiko, attributed the high production to the large number of communal farmers who were growing tobacco.
In the just ended 2017/18 season, a record 252.5 million kg of tobacco with a value of just over 737 million US dollars went through our contract and auction floor systems. This amount of tobacco is 34 per cent higher
than that sold in the previous season and also surpasses the highest amount of tobacco ever sold in the country of 236 million kg in the year 2000, he said.
This production is largely from the small scale, communal and A1 growers who are predominantly the beneficiaries of the government's successful land reform programme and the recently introduced command tobacco programme which is being administered through the Tobacco Industry Board.
He, however, bemoaned the high deforestation levels caused by the use of firewood for curing tobacco. As much as 300,000 hectares of indigenous forests are being lost annually and tobacco curing is responsible for approximately 15 percent of that loss," he said.
"This is despite Statutory Instrument 116 of 2012 which clearly states that each tobacco grower must establish a woodlot from which they can harvest and fuel their tobacco curing requirements. As a government we will work together to enable the protection of our natural forest resources.
According to the Sustainable Forest Association, only about one third of tobacco produced in Zimbabwe is cured using coal.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK