The devastating effects of Covid-19 on the global economy have changed the way in which business is being conducted with most activities operating online. This challenge for businesses is felt mostly in spaces where physical engagement to sell products is a necessity. One would think the current events were to stop tobacco farmers from producing a better yield and revenue but that was not the case for 2021’s tobacco season.
It is of paramount importance that we keep putting effort towards the tobacco sector despite the prevailing economic and pandemic situation in the country. 2021’s tobacco season yielded far much greater profits than 2020 as production was expected to reach 200 million kilograms compared to an estimated 184 million last year estimated by TIMB. With a contribution from the rainfall this year, the production grew by nearly 9%.
Following these outcomes the government worked together with stakeholders in the tobacco industry to continue with selling the leaf whilst observing all the Covid regulations put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. Tobacco is a major source of foreign exchange in Zimbabwe, with sales reaching $782 million in 2020 according to Central Bank data. Thus, there was need to ensure that the sector commences operations whilst protecting the lives of the people behind its success.
To mitigate the spread of the pandemic, Tobacco farmers were not exempted from adhering to Covid regulations that included proper wearing of the mask, social distancing and sanitisation. The government assisted in providing letters that allowed tobacco farmers to travel well to the main Auction Floors in Harare. This gesture tremendously helped in ensuring that farmers realise profits without having to use agents in selling their tobacco which could have had a major setback on their gross revenue.
Tobacco packaging demand
The increase in production also meant an increase in the demand of tobacco packaging material and as a trusted provider of tobacco hessian sacks, twine, stencil ink, tobacco paper and bale tags. We worked hard to provide most farmers with the right packaging for their tobacco throughout the season. We also started a campaign in the efforts of providing farmers with knowledge of how to maintain the quality of their hessian for an extended period of time. This in turn would help them to save on costs associated with continuously purchasing packaging material for their tobacco every season. The campaign also gave a scope of understanding to some of the different uses of hessian in the Agriculture sector.
The tobacco season may be over but then again there is still quite a number of activities that are done in the post tobacco season and these include the storage of tobacco hessian sacks which can all be found on our social media posts and articles on this website. We remain alert in making the Zimbabwean economy grow through agriculture.