Government has approved the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan aimed at
transforming the tobacco value chain into a US$5 billion industry by 2025 through localisation of tobacco financing, increased production and productivity and exports of cigarettes.
In a post cabinet briefing, Minister of Information and Publicity, Monica Mutsvangwa said 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.
“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” said Mutsvangwa.
The strategic objectives of the plan are to localise the funding of tobacco to complement
external funders and increase the level of value addition and beneficiation of tobacco from 2% of total tobacco produced to 30% in order to increase exports of cigarettes.
The plan is set to raise tobacco production and productivity from 262 million kg to 300 million kg and also diversify and increase the production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis while increasing their contribution to the farmers’ incomes to 25% by 2025.
Mutsvangwa said the plan will create an enabling environment that incentivizes investors to set up shop in the country instead of exporting raw or semi processed tobacco,
“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 are being taken because the country is not getting maximum benefit from its tobacco crop in terms of value addition and beneficiation” she said.
Mutsvangwa further announced that the Tobacco Research Board has started conducting
research on various crops and other types of tobacco as well as on the extraction of high value compounds of tobacco such as, nicotine, solanesol and edible oil.
“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,”
The Minister also said that primary studies have already been done on the extraction of tobacco edible oil and identified varieties that could be used for oil extraction, in efforts that are meant to increase the income that accrues directly to the farmers.
The tobacco industry is set to receive US$60 million from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe meant to support 50 000 hectares with the potential of producing 60 million kg of tobacco. The Tobacco Production Localisation Revolving Fund will be accessed by individual growers,
contractors for lending to contracted growers, auction floors for lending to auction floor growers during the forthcoming season.