Ethical Leaf Tobacco supporting farmers
ETHICAL Leaf Tobacco, (ETL) one of the Zimbabwe’s major tobacco contract companies, has unveiled a $660 million input facility called the Gold Class Scheme for smallholders farmers in the country.
The company says it hopes the scheme, which is entering its fourth running year and is said to be the largest indigenous input program, will improve the plight of small-scale farmers, who according to a recent survey, have little access to credit due to their inability to meet financiers’ requirements.
The scheme is fragmented into four groups namely gold class for farmers who produce 1 000kg and above, diamond 700kg, silver 500kg and bronze for those producing less than 500kg.
ETL group managing director Andrew Mupfawa, said the launch was historic.
“This is a historic moment for Ethical Leaf Tobacco and the indigenous owned tobacco contract farming sector, because of the fact that no other indigenous company has launched an input scheme this huge,” he said.
“We are calling it the “Gold Class Scheme” because like gold, this is a precious input scheme, thoroughly crafted to produce the golden leaf at the end of the season.
“Our database has been growing each year and this has ultimately led to tonight, where we are launching this massive tobacco input scheme. We have heard the farmers and we are responding to their concerns.”
He said they were hoping for a better season as a result of the scheme.
“The 2020/2021 farming season will usher in a new dawn for ELT as it has had an overhaul of service delivery, which includes the Gold Class input scheme plus working capital, personalised agronomy services, agro-based services and enhanced logistical services.
“We hope that the personalised agronomy services will ensure that our farmers will achieve top quality production, which will translate to top prices come the next selling season.”
Mupfawa said besides inputs the scheme also included working capital, personalised agronomy services, agro-based services and enhanced logistical services.
“Our aim is to light up the eyes of the smallholder farmers that we work with each time they see us coming and each time they hear from us.
“We want to prosper that person whose hope may be fading away and our aim is to make sure that hard work which is put into the soil, becomes something tangible at the end of every selling season,” he said.
“Like our name connotes, we as Ethical Leaf Tobacco, are governed by the desire to conduct our business ethically, and this has been evident throughout the years we have been in business.”
ELT, which started operating four years ago, has managed to grow the amount of tobacco that it is handling from 6,5 million kg in the 2016/17 season to 9,8 million kg.
ELT, which has over 15 000 tobacco contract farmers, employs about 900 people.