... raises $23m from to­bacco levy

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Ticha­fara Bepe

IN THE past three years, Gov­ern­ment has raised $23 mil­lion from a to­bacco levy that is sup­posed to be chan­nelled to­wards re­plen­ish­ing wood­lands that are used in cur­ing the cash crop.

Ini­tially, the af­foresta­tion levy was pegged at 1,5 per­cent of farm­ers’ gross rev­enues, but it has since been re­viewed to 0,75 per­cent.

To­bacco In­dus­try and Mar­ket­ing Board (TIMB) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Dr An­drew Mat­i­biri re­cently told The Sun­day Mail that the frame­work that gov­erns how the funds will be used is now in place.

“We al­ready have set up the struc­tures and the frame­works for the af­foresta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and we are only wait­ing for Trea­sury to re­lease the funds to us so we can be­gin the pro­gramme,” said Dr Mat­i­biri.

Zim­babwe To­bacco As­so­ci­a­tion (ZTA) chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Rod­ney Am­brose con­curred that both the struc­ture through which the funds will be ad­min­is­tered and the gov­ern­ing con­sti­tu­tion for the fund were com­pleted last year.

“Funds should now be availed be­cause de­for­esta­tion is reach­ing alarm­ing lev­els in to­bacco-grow­ing ar­eas as pro­duc­tion lev­els have in­creased to over 250 mil­lion kilo­grammes a year. About 70 per­cent of pro­duc­tion is com­ing from the small­holder, com­mu­nal and A1 sec­tors. Th­ese are all pri­mary users of wood for cur­ing their to­bacco and build­ing barn struc­tures,” he said.

ZTA be­lieves that funds pooled through the levy can also be used to spon­sor re­search into clean and ef­fi­cient green-cur­ing fu­els.

De­for­esta­tion is con­sid­ered to be one of the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing the to­bacco sec­tor.

Al­though coal has been touted as an al­ter­na­tive to wood, it is con­sid­ered un­vi­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally un­friendly.

Coal-fired fur­naces, ZTA said, re­quire forced air sys­tems that run on elec­tric­ity, which is a scarce se­condary en­ergy source in many ru­ral ar­eas. The cost is also con­sid­ered pro­hib­i­tive. “Al­ready, the largest multi­na­tional to­bacco com­pany aims to stop the use of coal in its var­i­ous to­bacco pro­duc­tion cy­cles by 2020 by recog­nis­ing that coal-based to­bacco cur­ing leads to high GHG (green­house gas) emis­sions, con­trib­utes to cli­mate change and im­pacts farm­ers’ well­be­ing,” ex­plained Mr Am­brose.

Global ac­tivists, through the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO)’s Frame­work Con­ven­tion on To­bacco Con­trol (WHO FCTC), con­tinue to push for lim­ited use of wood in cur­ing to­bacco.

In fact, some par­ties are propos­ing to make to­bacco grow­ers li­able for the over­all dam­age to the cli­mate, en­vi­ron­ment and ecosys­tems that is caused by their ac­tiv­i­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.