Tobacco Packaging Enough to Meet Demand — Matibiri

TOBACCO Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri has assured tobacco farmers that there will be enough hessian bags and tobacco wrapping paper for this year’s tobacco whose harvesting has just started in some provinces.

Dr Matibiri said suppliers of the hessian bags and wrapping paper were importing the material, but was quick to add that this would not affect their capacity to meet demand.

“I had a meeting with other stakeholders and suppliers of the material. There is enough to meet demand this year unlike in previous years when farmers struggled to secure it from the formal market,” said Dr Matibiri in an interview.

“They have also told me that there are two new players who will also be supplying the material alongside the traditional supplier, which is a shot in the arm for the farmers.”

He also revealed that coal was readily available for farmers to buy and cure their tobacco in a move that would go in line with the current drive to reduce tobacco inspired deforestation that has seen vast tracks of forests being destroyed every year in most tobacco producing countries.

“Farmers can access coal from their rural district councils throughout the country. which will be brought from Hwange Colliery Company within 10 days of placing the order.

“All rural district councils are now coal merchants — a move that was designed to bring the commodity closer to farmers and reduce transport costs that used to affect individual farmers. The coal will cost an average of US$110 per tonne but the price may vary depending on the distance of the council from the source,” added Dr Matibiri.

Last June Hwange Colliery Company signed a deal with rural councils in which they would buy coal at subsidised prices for farmers to use in tobacco curing.

The Government has also gazetted a Statutory Instrument making it mandatory for all tobacco farmers to grow woodlots, as a way of reducing deforestation in situations where they can not buy coal.

Farmers have always complained that they cannot meet the high prices of coal at the time of curing tobacco, as they would have exhausted their budgets on inputs and other operational costs.

source: allafrica.com

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