Government approves US$5 billion tobacco industry growth plan

  • Key objectives include localising the funding of tobacco
  • Seeks to raise tobacco production from 262 million kgs to 300 million kgs by 2025
  • Zim is currently not getting maximum benefit from its tobacco crop in terms of value addition and beneficiation

HARARE – Government has put its seal of approval to the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan which is targeting to transform the sector into a US$5 billion industry by 2025.

The initiative was launched by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) which is responsible for the marketing of tobacco in Zimbabwe, promote, project and maintain the sale of tobacco, collate statistics relating to the provision, marketing, manufacture, and consumption of tobacco, advise the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development on all matters relating to the marketing of tobacco among other key roles.

Speaking during a post-cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, 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,” she said.

Key objectives of the Plan include localising the funding of tobacco to complement external funders, to raise tobacco production and productivity from 262 million kilogrammes to 300 million kilogrammes by 2025, and also to diversify and increase the production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis and increase their contribution to the farmers’ incomes to 25% by 2025.

On value addition, the initiative is aiming to 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 and to 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,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

 “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 added 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,” Mutsvangwa said.

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