Agrobusiness - Featured - Local - Top Stories - May 5, 2021

Anti-tobacco campaign stirs concern among farmers

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) holds World No Tobacco Day on May 31 with the goal to spread awareness about the risks of tobacco use.

Zimbabwe which is among the tobacco-growing countries has become increasingly concerned about the economic challenges that may be encountered since the day has become a common fixture.

In an interview with BusinessMail, Casper Mlambo Agricultural Manager of Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), an alliance that represents the interests of local producers, said the global anti-tobacco drive, which seeks to scale back the consumption of tobacco, presents a real threat to the industry going forward.

“The  anti -tobacco  lobby  will have  a huge  impact  on the  Zimbabwe  economy  because tobacco is a golden leaf  and a foreign  currency booster,” Mlambo said.

The championing of the anti-smoking by WHO poses a negative impact on the demand for tobacco globally hence, there may be need to explore alternatives for tobacco-dependent economies.

“The  demand  is there  because  there  are  still  a lot of smokers  in China  as  an example  but  sometimes  it fluctuates depending  on production.  So it’s critical to maintain optimum  production  not  over  produce,” Mlambo said.

Mlambo holds the notion that producing one or two crops as complete substitutes for tobacco is not realistic at this point in time and no single crop is likely to play the same important and widespread role as tobacco does at the present.

“It is difficult  to shift  on alternative  crops  because  tobacco  is grown  in sandy  loamy soils  marginal  areas  if I can  put it  that  way.  Not too many crops do well in such conditions.

“Therefore, they might be no an exit strategy that we may prescribe to tobacco farmers,” Mlambo said.

Zimbabwe which is among the major producers of tobacco globally, has been progressively conflicted by the need to fight non-communicable disease caused by smoking and keeping the lucrative industry going.

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