Zambia’s tobacco production has decreased with 50%, slashing US$100 million of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. According to the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ), the slump from last year’s 45 000 tons to 22 000 tons was due to continued pressure from anti-tobacco lobbyists.
The decline worries government, who pledged it will increase efforts to develop policies to encourage investment in the sector. “Global anti-tobacco lobbying has led to reduced crop financing amidst mounting debt for local producers,” said Anthony Ford, TAZ president.
Ford said the decline translated into a loss of more than US$100 million in foreign exchange earnings. The average price per kilogramme is US$3.10.
“So far prices are fair, and the quality of this year’s crop is better, making it possible for us to compete internationally,” Ford said. He said resolving the Value Added Tax (VAT) issue will help improve Zambia’s competitiveness and bolster investor confidence in the sector.
Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya said government will ensure that the benefits of the tobacco industry extend to producers, value chain stakeholders and the rest of the country.
“We will do our part to promote and develop policies to encourage investment in the tobacco sector,” Siliya said.
Reiterating government’s desire to increase agriculture productivity, Siliya said the tobacco sector – which employed 450 000 people directly and indirectly – is an important sector to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
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