KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) says there is need to come up with a proper tracing mechanism to ascertain where tobacco is grown and produced to rule out speculation of contamination.
Mr Carter said there has been speculations that Zambian tobacco is contaminated due to lack of a proper tracing mechanism and this is affecting the commodityâ€™s competitiveness on the market.
He said at the TAZ annual congress in Lusaka recently that a named Zambiaâ€™s biggest tobacco trader has since withdrawn business due to the speculations.
â€œReports that our tobacco is contaminated are worrying. Despite the traders being obliged to have compliant tobacco and traceability protocols in place, we are unable to pinpoint the origin of the tobacco for us to identify and rectify the contamination issue. This has been compounded by a very difficult growing season, news that our biggest merchant has taken a decision to leave Zambia, and an unresolved stigma that our tobacco is perceived to have taint,â€ he said.
Mr Simukoko, who described the industry as being in a terrible state, called for a solution among key stakeholders, which include Government, farmers and merchants.
He said TAZ has resolved to start branding the commodity to get Zambian tobacco on the radar with its own identity.
â€œWe are starting our own Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programmeâ€¦Farmers will have to be compliant to taxation, reforestation, chemical compliance, and child labour being the main issues. Traders will also be directed not to buy tobacco from non-compliant farmers,â€ he said.
At the same event, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Julius Shawa appealed to TAZ and other stakeholders to be patient as Government reorganises the Tobacco Board of Zambia.
In a speech read on his behalf by the ministryâ€™s acting director for cooperatives Shadreck Mungalaba, Mr Shawa said Government understands that farmers have had a difficult season, and the news that the biggest buyer has left the country is regrettable.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka