By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
ABOUT 21,000 small scale farmers are producing tobacco in various parts of Zambia, says Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Songowayo Zyambo.
“Government is pleased with the growth of the tobacco industry over the years,” Mr Zyambo said in Lusaka recently.
Mr Zyambo said there were also about 200 commercial farmers that were producing tobacco in various parts of the country.
He said tobacco industry had a positive effect on the livelihoods of Zambians.
As such, he said, Government would continue to support the tobacco industry in order for the industry to increase its contribution to the economy.
He however said Government discouraged the indiscriminate cutting and use of tree in the curing of tobacco as it is environmentally unsustainable.
Mr Zyamboa said the tobacco industry should promote and adopt tried and tested environmentally sustainable production methods.
He said the use of tress in the curing of tobacco was environmentally unsustainable practice and should be discouraged.
“I am reliably informed that the industry has already started promoting sustainable solutions, such as the annual planting of three million trees and the introduction of new tobacco methods that reduces deforestation and the usage of firewood,” he said.
Mr Zyambo said the Government remained committed to the creation of an enabling environment to support the growth of the tobacco industry.
He said President Edgar Lungu had directed the Ministry to ensure that the review of the current tobacco legislation was consultative and takes into account the interests of various players, especially small scale farmers.