THE government has availed a US$60 million Tobacco Production Localisation Revolving Fund to help finance the golden leaf’s production locally, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has revealed.
TIMB chairperson Patrick Devenish said tobacco growers have been facing financial challenges as a result of increased cost of production.
“In an effort to alleviate that, the government has availed a US$60 million Tobacco Production Localisation Revolving Fund to help finance tobacco production locally,” Devenish said in a speech read on his behalf by TIMB chief executive Meanwell Gudu, at a field day held in Zvimba district at Colenso Farm yesterday.
“Beneficiaries of the fund will access working capital directly from the participating banks, whose identities will be given.
“At TIMB, we are working towards promoting superior production where 95 percent of Zimbabwean tobacco is in quality ranges 1-3 by 2025.
“That being said, I would like to appreciate many small-scale farmers who are here for contributing greatly to the volume and quality of tobacco produced in Zimbabwe. 211 million kilogrammes of tobacco were sold in the 2021 marketing season.
“Did you know that of the 211 million, 133 million kilogrammes were produced by small scale farmers? …It is through hard work and following good agronomic practices that has given us this bumper harvest.”
Devenish said small-scale farmers remain key in helping the country achieve the target of a US$5 billion tobacco industry by 2025.
“As per the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s State of Preparedness for the 2021/2022 summer cropping season, the target is to produce a total of 250 million kilogrammes of tobacco,” he said.
“With the workmanship small- scale farmers have shown I am very confident we can reach the target and even surpass it as we work towards a US$5 billion tobacco industry by 2025.
“Agriculture is at the epicentre of vision 2030. To achieve an upper middle income economy status we must transform tobacco production from surplus-oriented farming to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“Most of us take it for granted, but farming is a business. It is a means to an end. If we all benefit from early distribution of farming inputs and good rains, we should be able to develop proper business models for our tobacco farming.”
The field day celebrated the success story of a young small-scale tobacco farming couple, Roddreck Mutanhire and wife Olivia Macheri, 31, who rose from growing less than 10 hectares to 30 in just two seasons through the support of TIMB and TianzeTobacco Company.
“We started very small, but grateful for the help we got from TIMB and Tianze. Today our success story can motivate someone out there,” Mutanhire said.
“We are a young couple, but decided to come and live on the farm and take farming as a business. We started with one hectare in 2018 and by 2019 were growing five hectares.
“Between then and now, in just two seasons, we have grown remarkably and in two more seasons we hope to be even bigger. So far, we have 30 hectares and we are still planting
“We have had our challenges as small- scale farmers but through the continued support we get, we are seriously taking farming as a business.”