HARARE – Minister of Land, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Air chief marshal Perrance Shiri has paid tribute to the tobacco industry for its contribution in boosting production of the foreign currency earner.
Minister Shiri said this after a familiarisation tour at the Tobacco industry and Marketing Board and the Kutsaga Research Station in Harare.
He noted that because of contribution of stakeholders in the industry who included contractors, researchers and farmers, the country had increased tobacco production from around 56 million kilogrammes to 200 million kilogrammes per year.
“I realised that we have covered a lot of ground in ensuring we meet the nation’s expectation at the peak of the land reform, tobacco production had dropped to about 56 million kilogrammes per annum.
“But gradually they have managed to increase production up to around 200 million kilogrammes which used to happen during the peak period. This is a major development.
“The most encouraging thing is while Government has done its best to support the tobacco industry, the developments were mostly market driven especially given that out tobacco has a unique flavour which is in demand throughout the world,” he said.
He applauded financiers for coming up to support tobacco production especially contractors from China.
“I would like to recognise the great work and contribution made by the Chinese and the tobacco industry in particular TianZe and other companies who came in and introduced contract farming which has proved to be very viable and has helped grow the tobacco industry,” he said.
Minister Shiri urged tobacco growers to be organised especially when they sell their crop to avoid congestion at the auction floors.
He urged farmers to make prior arrangements before delivering their crop for sale at the floors so that they do not end up spending days camping at the premises waiting to sell their crop.
At the Kutsaga Research Station, the Minister visited the planting breeding section, plant health services, seed production, laboratories and fields.
Management at the institution raised concern over the price they were paying when purchasing machinery.
TRB management said they were made to pay twice or thrice the price paid by other countries and this made it difficult for them to acquire machinery for their operations.