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Zimbabwe only processing 2% tobacco

by Staff reporter
21 Mar 2022 at 06:24hrs | Views
Zimbabwe has earned US$245 million after exporting 48 000 tonnes of tobacco, as the country is only processing two percent of the leaf.

The country has a capacity of earning US$15 billion per annum from tobacco exports but is currently only getting US$900 million.

According to the latest Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics, 47 598 tonnes of tobacco have been exported to different regions with the Far East taking the bulk of the golden leaf.

So far, the Far East imported 25 609 tonnes, Africa 8 109 tonnes, European Union 6 168, Middle East 5 889tonnes and Europe 1 181.

 The Americas bought 650 tonnes of tobacco from Zimbabwe.

TIMB chief executive, Mr Meanwell Gudu, said there was need to invest in value addition for the industry and country to fully benefit from the crop.  He also expressed concern over sustainability issues which he said could affect the markets if not adhered to.

"While the tobacco industry has a potential value of US$15 billion from cigarettes export, only US$0,9 billion is currently being realised from leaf export," said Mr Gudu.

"We want our growers to use renewable sources of energy for curing tobacco. Our growers should not cut down indigenous trees for fuel wood for curing tobacco. Doing so is like robbing from our future generations.

"Euromonitor International estimates that the global decline in cigarettes is expected in the range of +/-33 percent in the next 15 years. This will lead to greater leaf supply amidst decreasing demand."

 Mr Gudu said customers will generally consider price and compliance to sustainability in deciding where to source the leaf.

"Leading global cigarette manufacturing companies developed a Sustainable Tobacco Programme (STP), which generally guides international tobacco production," he said. "The STP has a ranking or scoring that indicates the risk of purchasing tobacco from an origin. The higher the score, the lower the risk.

"Currently, 20 percent of Zimbabwean crop is purchased by STP market in western Europe. China, which is Zimbabwe's biggest market has begun to embrace these STP guidelines. So we are being compliant."

Mr Gudu said negative publicity, country risk and potential future risk (inclusive of supply chain failures) were factors guiding tobacco manufacturers in selection of purchasing origins.

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"Developed countries are enforcing supply chain laws precluding the sourcing of products tainted by unsustainable practices," he said.

"As an example, Malawian tobacco and tobacco products were recently banned for importation into USA due to non-compliance (forced and child labour concerns).

"The major environmental issues of concern to our customers are: climate change — cigarette companies are shifting towards carbon neutrality and use of renewable energy, forests — supply chains should not cause deforestation, water-supply chains to conserve water, waste-supply chains to manage pollution and biodiversity — supply chains should not threaten biodiversity.

"The major social issues of concern to our customers, good agricultural labour practice avoiding child and forced labour and improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the people and communities involved in tobacco production."

Mr Gudu said a consultant had been engaged by the industry to carry out a baseline survey of the compliance level.

"More robust action plans will be developed after this survey," he said. "TIMB will enforce additional minimum standards for sustainable tobacco production for both merchants and tobacco growers. There is also need to review the existing legal framework to enforce sustainable tobacco production."

Source - The Herald