By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT has challenged small holder farmers to contribute towards a five billion United States dollar Tobacco industry by 2025 up from the current one billion dollars.
After touring a well managed 10-hectare tobacco field at Muwanga farm in Trelawney, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka was upbeat the tobacco industry is poised for further growth.
Calling for the involvement of more smallholder farmers in tobacco production, the Minister challenged Agritex and the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to play a key role towards the attainment of set targets for the country.
Tobacco is a major foreign currency earner and 85 percent of the crop is from smallholder farmers. They need to be mainstreamed into vision 2030. We want to see growth in terms of expansion of area under tobacco and in terms of yields. Tobacco has been an import factor in the upliftment of lives, he said.
TIMB Technical Services Executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu emphasised the need to further develop infrastructure in order to increase production.
We are excited when smallholder farmers play a major part in the industry. We have to capacitate the growers. The infrastructure is there but we need to work on further developing it so that we get the extra 40 million kgs to get to 300 million, noted Gudu.
Muwanga farm is owned by Mr Aleck Muroiwa and his wife, Alice Matyatya who are in their eighth year of tobacco production.
The family has since managed to buy 3 new tractors from proceeds of their previous crop.