Africa’s largest tobacco grower, Zimbabwe, has kicked off the 2018 tobacco selling season in the capital Harare.
Government has announced that it’s adding Tobacco to its programme of Command Agriculture through which the capacity of local producers is enhanced.

This year farmers are expected to pocket more than half a billion dollars from tobacco, a 5.8 % increase in volumes.

Tobacco earns a third of Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product with most exports going to China, Belgium and South Africa.

More than 32 000 first time growers have registered increase compared to 16 000 2017.

“The number of registered growers in our database has increased by 43% to 118 549. The board has licensed 3 auction floors for the 2018 marketing season,” said Monica Chinamasa.

“The number of registered growers in our database has increased by 43% to 118 549. The board has licensed 3 auction floors for the 2018 marketing season.”

Over 95% of Zimbabwe’s tobacco is flue-cured and it has high global demand because of its flavour and the favorable climate conditions it is grown under.

However, an outbreak of the Potato Virus Y saw most farmers lose up to 20% of their crop due to delayed rains.
But over the past five years, more companies have shown interest in financing farmers.

The government is coming to the party.

“I am elated to report that government has extended the tobacco contract model to the same category as maize production program, commonly known as Command Agriculture which recently have been extended to cover wheat, Soya beans, livestock, fisheries and wildlife production. So, tobacco as from this coming season will also be on Command Agriculture,” said Zimbabwe Vice President General Constantino G. Chiwenga.

As the drive to lure investors continues, Zimbabwe is expected to host the Tobacco Investments and Promotion Conference in April.

“Over the years tobacco also known as the golden leaf has earned a strategic position in the Zimbabwean economy contributing 14% to the gross domestic product and significantly to the foreign currency earnings. Similarly on the socio-economic domain, more than 3 million owe their livelihoods to the tobacco industry. The tobacco sector therefore presents many opportunities for both local and foreign direct investments.”

Zimbabwe is also responding to the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap that focuses on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and industry and service driven value chains.