SMALLHOLDER farmers in Burma Valley in Manicaland province continue to embrace cigar wrapper tobacco farming after identifying a potentially lucrative international market.

Speaking at a Cigar Tobacco Wrapper field day at Mapote farm owned by Lindsay Guild in Burma Valley last Thursday, the host farmer said most farmers in Burma Valley were producing strains used to make cigar wrappers, which fetch good prices on the market. The product can fetch a price as high as US$7 per kg.

Cigar tobacco has no additives and it is considered environmentally friendly as it is air-cured.

“We have seen that many farmers have been interested in cigar wrapping production. We have been exploring international markets of late. We have been talking to clients and partners in the Dominican Republic, Spain and Cuba. We are almost through with the talks and we hope that we will make a breakthrough in these countries,” Guild said.

“We want this project to continue growing as we will continue to explore other international markets. So far we have seen more farmers venturing into cigar tobacco farming.”

Guild said: The cigar wrapper from Zimbabwe is in high demand on the international market and I want to urge the farmers here to continue producing a high quality product that meets international markets.”

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Guild lamented that high prices of inputs have heavily impacted on the production of cigar tobacco.

“We have challenges that include the high prices of inputs like fertilisers and chemicals. This has been a major drawback and we are appealing to the authorities to have a look at the prices of some farming inputs. This is affecting us heavily in our operations,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the field day, Francis Mukoyi from the Tobacco Research Board said the major objective of the field day was to showcase the cigar wrapper varieties that have been bred and developed by the board for cultivation in Zimbabwe.

“As Tobacco Research Board we have new varieties and we will advise the growers on the best management practices on cigar wrappers. The new genetics and varieties that are being developed by the Tobacco Research Board are best suited for production in Burma Valley,” he said.  

About 15 smallholder farmers are part of this venture.

Zimbabwe is the third country after Cameroon and Kenya to produce cigar wrapper tobacco.