US$70 million support for small-scale tobacco growers in Zimbabwe

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says it will this year provide a US$70 million support facility to shore up productivity and competitiveness in the small-scale tobacco production sector.

Central bank Governor Dr. John Mangudya said the interventions will be made through the RBZ Tobacco Finance Facility, administered by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) and disbursed through AgriBank.

The support package includes the provision of seeds, fertilisers, farm chemicals and the partial payment of wages for small-scale tobacco farm workers. The farmers will also receive coal for curing the crop, as well as product packaging materials.

“The RBZ has increased the Tobacco Finance Facility from $28 million in 2017, to $70 million for the 2018 planting season to ensure that the inputs reach the farmer at affordable prices. The export incentive for the tobacco growers has been increased from 5% to 12.5%. This amount shall be paid through the respective growers’ bank accounts or mobile money services,” he said.

Farmers who sold their produce to the TIMB will also be entitled to preferential daily cash withdrawal limits of up to $300. Due to the cash crisis, all non-business account holders in Zimbabwean banks have been confined to a daily withdrawal limit of $50 since mid-2016.

The US$28 million support facility availed in 2017 supported 5 360 out of the 82 438 registered producers who took part in tobacco farming. This year, the number of Zimbabwean small-scale tobacco farmers has increased to 118 338.

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