Story by Owen Mandovha
DELIVERIES of the Shisha tobacco crop are growing exponentially at the tobacco auction floors, as farmers tap into the new sub-sector which is less costly and lucrative on the market.
It is time for rich pickings for shisha tobacco growers who are riding on the market that is growing exponentially locally and globally.
25 000 kilogrammes of the crop valued at over US$90 000 have so far passed through the auction floors across the country.
One of the local companies spearheading the production and marketing of the crop gave an insight into this sub-sector.
“Let me clear this misconception about shisha because it is at times associated with drugs but in reality it is only the differences in growing it from the conventional tobacco,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Cavendish Tobacco, Mr Tinashe Mukadzambo.
“A farmer applies 50 percent less fertilizer to reduce nicotine content and a farmer should not pluck out the flower when it emerges to allow the removal of more nitrogen to lessen the sugars so producing shisha is less costly and its market is growing on the local and external scene.”
A local tobacco farmer who transitioned to shisha advised conventional tobacco farmers to try the crop.
“My son advised me to start shisha production and it is proving to be profitable hence I advise other farmers to consider it,” said Mr Chris Chingosho.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development this Friday oversaw the auction sale and confirmed that it fits well into the government’s tobacco industry value chain transformation strategy.
“This crop is a game changer for tobacco farmers as it dovetails with the government’s Tobacco Industry value chain transformation strategy. The low costs in production and high prices are a big attraction and the onus is left for us to educate farmers on how to grow the crop because there are a lot of benefits,” said the Director of Research, Innovation and Development in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, Dr Dumisani Kutwayo.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) and the Tobacco Research Board (TRB) have been at the forefront in promoting the adoption of shisha as an alternative as the market is expanding at an unprecedented rate both locally and globally.