Farmers urged to grow flavoured tobacco types
8/29/2008 2:24:54 AM
TOBACCO farmers have been urged to concentrate on growing flavours that are in demand in the top niche markets and are in short supply internationally, if the industry is to improve on its foreign currency earnings from the crop.
The call was made by the Tobacco Research Board assistant general manager Mr Enoch Kutsaga at the 35th Annual Congress of the Air-Cured Tobacco Association last week.
Mr Kutsaga said Zimbabwe had earned itself the reputation for producing the best grades of the golden leaf and should strive to maintain that position especially now that other countries were joining the tobacco bandwagon.
"As long as Zimbabwe continues to produce tobacco, which is specifically meant for the international market and is not produced by other countries the country will continue to reap rewards from the crop," he added.
He said burley prices had slumped on the international market and would not be the best investment for the tobacco industry.
"In these difficult conditions for the tobacco sector, farmers should continue to grow the crop and emphasis must be placed on flavoured types rather than the fluffy types which are in abundance as they are also being produced by other regional countries," he said.
He said that last season burley fetched 81 US cents per kilogramme, which was in line with prices in other regional countries.
ACTA's mandate is to represent and safeguard the interests of all air-cured tobacco growers in the country, among them producers of burley, oriental, dark air-cured and fire-cured tobaccos.
Acting ACTA president Mr Lindsay Guild welcomed the decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to cushion growers against the inflationary environment by giving them 15 percent of their foreign currency earnings.
He added in order to avoid a repeat of previous years, inputs were already being distributed to farmers.
"Fertilizer has already gone to farmers and we are still talking to the RBZ for more funds just like last year as we have already received $20 million," said Mr Guild.