The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) will manage the afforestation fund made up of tobacco levies, a Cabinet minister has said.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
The fund was being managed by Treasury which, for two consecutive seasons failed to disburse the $13,2 million collected in tobacco levies meant for afforestation programmes.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made last week said TIMB would take over the fund this marketing season. The tobacco marketing season began on March 15.
“In our discussions with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, we have been assured that the tobacco levy is now going to be administered by TIMB,” Made said.
The 1,5 % tobacco levy which had been scrapped in 2005, was re-introduced by government in 2015, as golden leaf production increased to cater for the environment through afforestation. The money was meant to assist tobacco farmers in growing gum trees and access alternatives to firewood for curing tobacco.
TIMB chairperson, Monica Chinamasa, said from the recent pronouncement by Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa, government would appropriate the outstanding disbursement.
“We are very delighted by this clear pronouncement by government and as such we will immediately embark on an aggressive afforestation programme using the levy funds,” Chinamasa said.
She said growers have been contributing towards an afforestation levy since 2015.
Chinamasa encouraged farmers to re-orient their production practices to patterns that favour sustainability and satisfy the new needs of the markets.
“A simple way of doing this is to establish woodlots and to use firewood from sustainable forest for curing tobacco,” she said.
Treasury has projected the 2017 tobacco output at 205 million kg up from 202 million kg attained this year.