To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

December 30, 2010

Tobacco adds fuel to Zimbabwe's exports

by Ginny Stein

Tobacco production is booming in Zimbabwe as small farmers attempt to cash in on high prices worldwide.

Farmers have also been spurred on by Zimbabwe's adoption of the US dollar following the collapse of its own currency, with 99 per cent of all tobacco grown in the country now exported.

Operators of a farm outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare are harvesting a fine crop of lush 16 leaf plants to be smoked dry - the Virginia method of flavouring tobacco.

Last year the tobacco sold by growers was worth about $US274 million - this year that figure has reached almost $US500 million.

But despite the country's booming tobacco industry, smoking remains a luxury few Zimbabweans can afford and very few have taken up the habit.

Andrew Matibiri, chief executive of Zimbabwe's Tobacco and Marketing Industry Board, says more farmers are becoming involved.

"If you go back 10 years, we had 8,500 growers growing on average about 10 hectares each. This year we had 50,000 growing units growing on average one-and-a-third hectares," he said.

After president Robert Mugabe's land reform program kicked off 10 years ago, white-owned farms were seized and land redistributed. Just who got the large and most fertile farmland remains a deeply contentious issue. But when it comes to tobacco farming and small holdings, there are many success stories and greater distribution of wealth.

Douglas Mhembere, a war veteran and Mugabe loyalist, has a small holding outside Harare that comprises 160 hectares on which he farms cattle and tobacco. He has 60 labourers and their families living on the farm.
He had a successful harvest and hopes his next crop, which has just been planted, will be every bit as profitable.

"What I did was, I just said 'I must just go onto the land and get on my own'," he said.

Mr Mhembere says that decision has helped change his life.

But in a country where land title is nowhere near decided, one major issue still hangs over Mr Mhembere's head. He has no papers for his land, and as a result no way to borrow money from any bank to improve his farm. Because he has no official lease Mr Mhembere is like a squatter and has no legal rights to the land.

"That is the thing. I don't have the papers," he said.

And that remains the situation across the whole of Zimbabwe for all farmers on seized land.

ABC News

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP