Tobacco is one of the biggest contributors to economic growth and any restrictions or ban on the golden leaf will have serious implications on the economy, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
Last year, tobacco worth $855 million was exported from Zimbabwe with China getting 41% of the total exports.
TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri yesterday told stakeholders at a consultative workshop on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that at household level up to three million people depended on tobacco.
“…any form of restrictions and bans on tobacco have serious implications on livelihoods of our farmers and will definitely and significantly impact on the economy of the country,” Matibiri said.
The WHO framework seeks to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Zimbabwe accounts for 20% of the world’s flue-cured tobacco trade.
Matibiri said by virtue of being a major producer of the golden leaf, Zimbabwe must protect its industry from the “negative effects of unbalanced and poorly informed tobacco control legislation adopted by countries which import the leaf produced here.”
He said the current threat to exclude tobacco from international trade agreements and to treat it in a different way from other products which affect health or the environment were not only fair but “also risks becoming a precedent for other excessively restrictive legislation”.
He said there were over 70 000 registered farmers growing tobacco. Of these, over 46 000 were doing so under the contract growing and marketing scheme.
The industry has also spawned in cigarette manufacturers. Currently, there are seven cigarette manufacturers which export over 80% of their produce