• July 23, 2024

Excitement at First Shisha Tobacco Sales

 Excitement at First Shisha Tobacco Sales
Photo: Cavendish Lloyd

Sales of shisha tobacco, which opened for the first time at the tobacco sales floor in Harare on April 21, were met with excitement by farmers and buyers, reports The Herald.

Shisha tobacco is proving to be popular in Zimbabwe, and the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has licensed one company, Cavendish Lloyd Tobacco, to support shisha tobacco production in the country.

The first bale of shisha tobacco sold for $5, and the highest price was $5.30.

“Today, I delivered 15 bales,” said Moses Machine, a Mutorashanga farmer who expects to deliver 400 bales to the sales floors. “There are several advantages associated with growing this type of crop. Plant population will double the Virginia tobacco. Shisha uses less fertilizer. Since it is the first year, we are not sure where the viability is, but with time, we are going to have a proper analysis. There is use of less labor and fertilizers. In terms of costs of production, there is a difference compared to the Virginia one. There are plenty of good points, but, yes, we may encounter challenges since it is the beginning..

“I recommend farmers to grow this type of tobacco; no curing using firewood, hence it is cheap to cure. Farmers need to maximize production; air is the major source of the energy. Shisha tobacco production is a welcome development.”

“The tobacco needs very special attention because the plant or the leaf is very thin, so if you don’t carefully handle it, the leaf itself breaks,” said Jayson Scott, a Marondera farmer. “I have delivered 15 bales, and if everything goes well, l will increase hectarage.”

TIMB Sales Supervisor Pelagia Marumahoko said the regulator is expecting about 100 hectares for shisha production this season, and markets are readily available in Africa.

“We have licensed Cavendish Lloyd Tobacco to contract growers growing shisha at the present moment. It doesn’t only contract our farmers, but it also processes this tobacco locally. So far, we have 12 farmers who grow shisha tobacco throughout all the tobacco growing regions,” said Marumahoko.

Chemical applications for pest and insect control and growth period are the same as other tobacco cultivars such as Virginia tobacco. The crop is reaped when the leaves have completely lost all the nitrogen and have fully ripened. It is cured using the same flue-curing barns, temperature and humidity regimes for the Virginia flue-cured tobacco, and it takes four days to five days to complete curing.

The cured leaf has to have low nicotine content to protect the smoker from inhaling huge amounts of nicotine since shisha tobacco is about constant smoke inhalation in huge quantities.