TOBACCO production in Zambia is expected to be low this year because of the worrying rainfall patterns that have hit many parts of the country.
Tobacco farmers in Nkeyema, Kaoma and Chipata confirmed the state of affairs which they squarely blamed on partial drought that has affected several parts of Zambia
A tobacco farmer in Kaoma, Mr David Sililo said Zambia had appropriate climatic conditions, and market that could enhance tobacco and other cash crops production but that it was faced by numerous challenges.
Mr Sililo said there was need for Government to give support to farmers in Zambia, adding that tobacco like any other crop was a major source of income for small-scale farmers.
He said besides, the growth in agriculture over the years had been affected by inadequate access to productive assets such as high quality agricultural inputs as well as high transport costs.
And another farmer in Chipata, Mr Lovemore Daka, said tobacco farmers had been affected by high cost of production and poor rains.
He said the observation by Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) that it anticipated low tobacco production during the 2015 marketing season was true, and that the Government and other stakeholders should learn from such an experience and work at ensuring the smooth marketing of the produce.
ZNFU said the low tobacco production during this year’s marketing season was anticipated and that the controversy that rocked the tobacco trade was going to disadvantage farmers.
Mr Daka said tobacco farmers invested a lot of money in production and that they expected to benefit from their efforts through good prices.
“We need to get value for our produce because we spend a lot of money to cultivate and process it, most of the farmers used to spend nights in the cold and unfortunately this year’s poor rains will as well contribute to low production,” he said.
Mr Daka said the tobacco industry could double up its efforts to increase output if they were supported.
He said tobacco was a high-value cash crop suitable for small-holder farming which had changed the lives of many Zambian farmers.