2019 tobacco exports to earn Zambia US$50M

By Staff Reporter

OVER 28,000 metric tonnes of Tobacco is expected to be harvested this agriculture season.

Speaking at the 55th Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) annual general meeting in Lusaka, agriculture minister Michael Katambo said the total production was expected to earn the country over $50 million in foreign currency.

Katambo said that government recognized that the tobacco industry was vital for the realization of the government’s aspiration for an export-oriented agriculture sector as outlined in the seventh national development plan.

He said that tobacco was a very important crop that had great potential to contribute to the growth of the economy through employment and job creation.

“For those that may not know tobacco is 7 and half times more profitable than maize and 14 times more profitable than cotton for a hector,” he said.

Katambo said government was in a hurry to turn around the agriculture sector through increased production where farmers, traders and agro processors all make a decent profit.

“In the case of tobacco industry, we will only grow the industry when tobacco growers, small and large-scale tobacco merchants or buyers and tobacco processors are happy with the policy environment and are able to make money,” he said.

Katambo further said that government wanted to ensure that there was unity among all stakeholders.

And a young Zambian farmer and innovator, has called for more investment to agriculture and agri-business in order for the sector to be more profitable.

Meanwhile, a young farmer, Mwala Mooto says agriculture was the largest employer in Zambia, and generally in Africa, but unfortunately, its contribution to GDP did not reflect the industry players efforts.

Mooto said that Africa was capable of achieving sustainable development goals, reduce inequality and poverty levels if it utilized the opportunities that agriculture, agro processing and agribusiness present.

“60 percent of the African population is employed in agriculture, but the sector only contributes 15 percent to continental GDP and 70 percent of Zambians are employed in the sector, but only contribute 15 percent to National GDP,” he said

Mooto has attributed the low contributions of the sector to low economic activity that can be derived from the sector despite the majority of the population being involved in agricultural activities.