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July 31, 2011

Zambia to help tobacco growers market their crop

by Davies M.M Chanda

Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) chairperson, Ephraim Mwenda said at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the 2011 tobacco marketing season had posed a serious challenge in terms of lack of market for burley tobacco, especially the one grown by independent farmers who were not sponsored.

Dr Mwenda welcomed Government’s timely intervention as it would enable the affected farmers to dispose of their produce. He said the Government, through TBZ, would buy the crop and help tobacco growers that were stranded with their crop to find a market.
 A task force had been established under TBZ to work out logistics of buying the crop.

“There have been serious complaints from independent growers who are consistently reporting that buyers are shunning their crop and are only buying tobacco from their (sponsored) farmers,” he said.

Dr Mwenda said he had assured all stakeholders that TBZ had taken precautions to avoid distortion of the tobacco market and would work with tobacco merchants in the buying, processing and marketing of the crop that would be bought.
 He said the crop would be bought at designated floors within the burley tobacco producing areas so farmers do not transport it to Lusaka.

“The burley tobacco will be bought at the current price of 40-50 cents per kg and flue-cared Virginia will go for US$1.40,” he said.

Dr Mwenda also called on farmers to grow dark-fired tobacco and flue-cured Virginia tobacco that had a ready market.

Burley tobacco is usually grown by small-scale farmers while flue-cured and dark-fired tobacco is grown by commercial farmers.

About 39 million kg of tobacco were produced last year while about 40 million kg were expected to be produced this year

Times of Zambia

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