Tobacco farmers sing the blues

Source: Tobacco farmers sing the blues – NewsDay Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWEAN tobacco farmers are facing a myriad of challenges, including increased costs of production and foreign currency shortages to purchase inputs.

This was said yesterday by Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive Meanwell Gudu while giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture led by Justice Mayor Wadyajena on challenges faced by tobacco farmers.

Gudu said late rains caused damage to most tobacco plants, adding that the Russia-Ukraine war would result in agricultural input costs going up.

“The rainfall season was late and this impacted negatively on crop development and nutrient availability, resulting in some crops being lighter in yields,” Gudu said.

“Farmers are facing viability challenges as a result of increased costs of production, prices of inputs have gone up, and we also expect them to go up further because of the war in eastern Europe with at least 40% of agricultural raw materials like fertilizers at global level come from that region.”

He said anti-tobacco production and marketing campaigns by global lobby groups threatened the viability of the industry.

“Sustainability is now a major differentiator for different customers and the major issues of concern are climate change. Customers are also worried about good agriculture labour practises and investments, as well as the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of people and communities in tobacco production.  We need to move fast because our competitors are 100% compliant,” he said.

Gudu also revealed that there was an impasse between Voedsel Tobacco Company and transporters over non-payment for services.

He said tobacco farmers were getting 75% of their payments in foreign currency and 25% in local currency at the prevailing bank rate of the day.