Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) Executive Officer James Kasongo says he would rather have reduced Tobacco production with a well-structured marketing system as opposed to an increased production that benefits only few individuals.
Speaking at the official opening of the stakeholders meeting in Lusaka yesterday, the TBZ CEO says his efforts to restructure the Tobacco industry in the country will not be frustrated by anyone.
He re-echoes that it is sad that some people in the industry are doing everything possible to frustrate his organisations’ efforts and that of government to restructure the Tobacco industry.
“I have mentioned this before and I mention it again now, as Chief Executive, I am not moved at all. We better off!
“For example this year by putting things together with the farmers, production has increased from 23-30 million Kilogrammes but am ready and prepared if this is what it means to have 1 million Kilogrammes of Tobacco next as long as it is produced in an orderly well organised marketing system and where all the stakeholders in the Tobacco value chain get equitable profits,” he said.
He has also revealed that in quest of changing the operations and bringing sanity, the Board has engaged a specialist to capture data that will help in farmer Registration and their specific locations.
“In this case, what I am trying to emphasis is that whether the merchants come or not, it doesn’t move me as Chief Executive. What I am targeting is to work with the government to ensure that we have a conducive working environment were all entrepreneurs that work in the marketing system in the Tobacco industry in this country starting with the small scale farmer, the commercial farmer and everyone else, the merchants themselves and floor managers operate in an environment that is stable.
Meanwhile, government says it expects all players in the industry to observe laid down procedures and not do things outside the legal stipulation.
Speaking on behalf of Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo, Acting Director in the Department of Agriculture Alick Daka also called on all farmers that have not remitted levies to do so through the Tobacco Board of Zambia.
The Minister has further directed that children should not be used in the cultivation and farming of Tobacco.
“Tobacco has been recognised as lucrative and quick win cash crop in the agriculture sector. According to the research finding in Zambia Tobacco is seven and half times more profitable per hectare than maize production and fourteen times more profitable than Cotton production, a clear indication that Tobacco has great potential contribute to the growth of the economy through employment and wealth creation,” he notes.
And giving a vote of thanks on behalf of fellow Farmers, Given Mungomba urged government to help them find the market in China stating that the Chinese are the biggest consumers of Tobacco in the world.
He asked Republican President Edgar Lungu to send a delegation to China for the purpose of finding a market for the Tobacco farmers in the country.
Mr. Mungomba who is a former Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Science and Technology also called on government to follow up the 2% levy remitted by Tobacco farmers at the point of sale.
He said whoever was holding on to the money should pay government because that was a contribution from the farmers to government and not to the Tobacco merchants.