About 75 delegates from five tobacco-growing countries converge in Harare today to discuss challenges and threats facing the sector.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
The delegates will be drawn from Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
Zimbabwe is now Africa’s largest producer contributing over 60% of the continent’s production. The importance of tobacco to Zimbabwe’s total economic empowerment cannot be overlooked.
“Members of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association in Africa will meet in Harare tomorrow (today) for a two-day meeting to discuss production, marketing, viability, sustainability, challenges and threats in their sector,” said Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive officer Rodney Ambrose.
“The delegations participating in this meeting are from member countries and will today hold a closed session where internal matters of their respective growing industries will be discussed along with presentations of country reports and a world analysis of supply and demand.”
Ambrose said the main focus of the meeting was to come up with possible solutions on how to eliminate child labour in tobacco farming in the region.
A report by Human Rights Watch revealed rampant abuse of children in tobacco production.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri will officially open the conference.
The focus will be on the social and economic importance of tobacco to the region, through the launch of a recent regional study.