News / Africa

Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Production Up, Faces Challenges

Zimbabwe's tobacco sales up from last yearZimbabwe's tobacco sales up from last year
x
Zimbabwe's tobacco sales up from last year
Zimbabwe's tobacco sales up from last year
Ricci Shryock
Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has announced the 2011 sale of more than 140 million kilograms of tobacco generated $517 million in revenue – an increase of more than $100 million from last year.

But, Harare-based economist John Robertson warns that the uptick in production and revenue should not distract from the potential risk of future deforestation, due to new curing methods being used.

“The farming methods being applied right now are environmentally damaging and very threatening to the long term prospects of the farming sector,” said Robertson.

Before farming land was taken over by the government in 2000 and redistributed, the mostly white-owned farms used coal fires to cure tobacco.  According to Robertson, many of the nation’s small-scale tobacco farmers now use firewood to cure their tobacco, instead of coal. With tens of thousands of farmers chopping down nearby trees for firewood, Robertson said there is a 'desertification' threat in Zimbabwe's tobacco farming regions.

After the government land reform, tobacco production dropped significantly but, since 2009, has been on the rise, though is still off from peak-2000 numbers.  Robertson said, since the land on those few large farms has been parceled out into tens of thousands of tobacco farms, the average grower farms about two hectares.

He also warned that an increase in global production of tobacco in next year’s markets could cause a drop in prices for the average Zimbabwe tobacco farmer who, according to a recent New York Times article, makes an average of $6,000 US a year.
 
Robertson acknowledges this salary is well above the income of around $800 US that a worker used to earn before land reform, if he was employed by one of the large tobacco operations.  But, he argued that the lower salary doesn’t reflect the healthcare, educational and other benefits those workers received.

Since land reform, it’s not just the sellers who have changed. Today, China is the biggest buyer of Zimbabwe’s tobacco.

“When our principle markets were in Europe, the European buyers were much fussier than the Chinese buyers,” said Robertson.  “In China, they find that a small quantity of Zimbabwe tobacco, of almost any quality, so dramatically improves the quality of the Chinese tobacco that the cigarette becomes very much more acceptable to the smoking public.”

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid