• May 21, 2024

Zambia resolute on tobacco

 Zambia resolute on tobacco

Full disclosure

Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya has said that the country is likely to forfeit about US$100 million in export earnings due to a drastic reduction that has occurred in tobacco production, according to a story in the Zambia Daily Mail.

It wasn’t clear from the story over what period the US$100 million would be forfeited, but the reduction in production was said to have been from 45 million kg in 2013 to 22 million kg in 2017.

In a speech that was read out on her behalf at the 53rd annual congress of the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ), Siliya said the government remained resolute in its aim to turn the situation around through the promotion and development of policies that would encourage investment in the tobacco sector, which, she added, employed about 450,000 people directly or indirectly country-wide.

She said tobacco remained one of the key strategic crops whose relevance to Zambia’s social and economic growth could not be overemphasized.

“If properly harnessed, we can grow our economy and improve the livelihoods of our brothers and sisters whose lives depend on the proceeds from tobacco,” she said. “It is a well-known fact that tobacco farmers also grow food crops such as maize, soya beans and groundnuts using inputs obtained on loans for tobacco growing.”

Siliya said the government would ensure that the benefits tobacco provided to farmers, value chain stakeholders and the nation at large were not compromised.

The TAZ president Ant Ford said reduced crop financing and increased farmer debt on the local and international front had contributed to the reduction in tobacco production.

Meanwhile, British American Tobacco’s security and brand enforcement manager Milupi Nyambe said that about 500 jobs would be created during the construction phase of the US$25 million BAT factory at the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone.