ABN – Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports have grown by 235% in the past five years and the government is hoping that the crop’s success will help boost the country’s agricultural industry.
There are currently more than 90,000 tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe, encouraged by the market’s offerings of prompt payments and advance funding for seeds and equipment.
They are poised to reap further benefits this year as the prime recipients of funding pledged by Zimbabwean banks to the country’s agriculture industry.
Clive Maphambela, advocacy offer at the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, told Reuters that banks plan to lend US$1 billion to the agriculture industry this year and that 60% of that will go to tobacco farmers.
However, the Zimbabwean government has argued that boosting the country’s tobacco production will have no effect on the levels of smoking and related health risks in the country – as only 5% of production is smoked in Zimbabwe.
The largest proportion of tobacco produced in Zimbabwe is imported by China, who last year bought 40% of the total 218 million kilos produced.
Chinese buyers pay more for the crop than those in other countries, as they believe it is of higher quality and helps add flavour to Chinese-produced cigarettes.