Deep seated challenges in tobacco sector under spotlight

GOVERNMWENT is engaging stakeholders in the tobacco industry to eradicate challenges facing the sector including the demise of the auction marketing system.
It is touted as a multi-billion dollar industry but on the ground deep seated challenges continue to hog the tobacco industry limiting the sector’s contribution to economic growth and development.
Stakeholders converged in Harare to discuss ways to eradicate unfair practices which include the inappropriate funding structure.
“If you look at how tobacco is being funded foreign loans are dominating production hence the increase of contracted tobacco hence depriving auction floors their market. This is now leading to the demise of the auction system,” said Mrs Chido Nyakudya, an Auction Floor Operator
Communal farmers lamented being reduced to labourers with nothing or little to show for their sweat.
“Farmers are highly indebted due to overpriced inputs by contractors and they have always toiled on the land for years because there is no affordable financing of the crop available,” said a farmer representative.
Others stakeholders are crying foul over the way the afforestation levy has been used.
“Every farmer pays the afforestation levy but we have not been satisfied with how this fund has been utilised to reduce the impact of deforestation in our communal areas,” said another.
One potential threat to the attainment of the five billion United States dollar tobacco industry is the looming World Health Organisation control on manufacturing cigarettes and smoking, with stakeholders advocating for more research on alternative crops such as industrial hemp.

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