Increased value-addition of tobacco on cards

By John Nhandara

VALUE-addition was topical when the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) appeared in Parliament this Tuesday, amid revelations that beneficiation of the golden leaf is only at two percent.

The TIMB appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator, Honourable Mayor Justice Wadyajena.

While the main focus of the public hearing was on pricing and licensing of auction floors, the major take away was the need to value-add the cash crop.

“We need to work on value addition and beneficiation of tobacco, which currently stands at two percent,” said TIMB Chief Executive Officer, Meanwell Gudu.

The committee asked several questions regarding tobacco pricing and the overall production and marketing environment.

“We want to know what you have done with defaulting contractors of the market that you regulate,” asked committee chairperson, Hon Wadyajena.

One committee member added, “May you, through this committee lobby for a law in which we would want to know how tobacco farmers will cure their tobacco to avoid deforestation?”

In response, the TIMB CEO, explained how the global golden leaf supply situation has pushed prices up.

“This season prices are ten percent firmer. This is as a result of the global outlook where countries like Brazil and India are falling short of their usual production levels,” said Gudu.

Tobacco auction floors opened two weeks ago, with farmers being paid 75 percent of their sales in foreign currency and the remaining 25 percent in local currency.