Lack of collateral bogs down tobacco farmers


Eric Chiriga

NEWLY-RESETTLED tobacco farmers are failing to secure funding from financial institutions, a situation that has affected their output, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Boa

rd has said.


Due to financial constraints, new farmers cannot buy inputs and equipment.

“The new farmers are failing to get support from financial institutions because they have no collateral,” said Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) general manager, Stanley Mutepfa, at the National Export Strategy held in Harare last week.


He said there used to be a solid relationship between commercial tobacco farmers and financial institutions.


Poor grower viability coupled with escalating costs of production had significantly contributed to the decline in tobacco production, Mutepfa said.

He said newly-resettled tobacco farmers were failing to produce enough to supply the export market, adding that the farmers should fully utilise the existing infrastructure and equipment inherited from displaced white commercial farmers to produce quality tobacco which fetches higher earnings.


“We have a fully functioning industry but volumes of production are continuing to decline,” Mutepfa said.


Prior to the disruptive land reform programme, Zimbabwe was on the United States’ list of the world’s best five exporters of tobacco.


Mutepfa said there was need to refocus on the fundamentals of tobacco production so that the country can regain its market share and restore customer confidence.


Tobacco used to account for a third of the country’s export earnings.

In February, the country exported the largest amount of 10 057 239 kilogrammes of Virginia tobacco but the amount declined the following month to 3,3 million kilogrammes.


“In the last season we were expecting plus or minus 160 million kilogrammes but we got only 60 million,” Mutepfa said.


In 2002 and 2003 seasonal exports were 42 170 700 and 36 584 100 kilogrammes respectively.


Zimbabwe exports tobacco to the European Union, Asia, the United States of America and China.

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