Zimbabwe to Achieve Target Early

Workers at Atlas Agri receive bales of leaf at the company’s warehouse in Harare. Zimbabwe is anticipating record volumes this season. (Video: Taco Tuinstra)

Zimbabwe is poised to reach its 300 million kg tobacco crop target ahead of schedule with 284 million kg already delivered and sold this season, reports The Herald.

Last season the final count was 212 million kg. If the proportions of the final crop delivered by this time are the same as last year, Zimbabwe should reach its 300 million kg 2025 target within a few weeks.

“Over 284 million kgs of tobacco have been sold this season, surpassing the set targets, meaning we had a good and very productive season,” said Chelesani Tsarwe, public relations officer at the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, which regulates the trade.

In an attempt to extract more value from the country’s tobacco business, the government of Zimbabwe has formulated the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan. The blueprint aims to create a $5 billion tobacco industry by 2025 through a combination of value addition and increased leaf production.

The 284 million kg compares with 190 million kg sold in the same period last year and represents a new record.

The Herald, which tends to tow the government line, attributes the country’s productivity to its controversial land reform program in the early 2000s, which involved the confiscation of primarily white-owned commercial farms and redistribution of land to smallholders.

Prior to land reform, Zimbabwean tobacco was produced by about 1,500 commercial farmers who sold their tobacco at auction. Today, tobacco is produced by tens of thousands of small-scale farmers, most of whom contract directly with leaf merchants because they lack the means to finance their own operations.

Zimbabwe produces 6 percent of the world’s tobacco. The country reportedly has enough tobacco seed to cater for the next eight years.

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