Tobacco farmers to pay afforestation levy

Tobacco farmers to pay afforestation levy

HARARE, February 26 (The Source) – The tobacco farmers will this year pay 1.5 percent of their earnings to industry efforts to curb deforestation, an official has said.

Afforestation has become a major issue in tobacco as coal and electricity and the associated infrastructure are beyond the reach of most smallholder tobacco farmers who rely solely on firewood to cure their crop.

The tobacco marketing season opens on March 4 with sales on the auction floors while contract sales start the following day.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Andrew Matibiri this week told unions, auctioneers and other key stakeholders that the introduction of the tax will finance re-afforestation activities.

“All stakeholders are advised that with effect from the start of the tobacco marketing season all tobacco farmers will be required to pay a levy of 1.5% of gross tobacco sales proceeds. The funds collected will be used for afforestation purposes,” said Matibiri in a statement.

“We therefore advise all auction and contract sales floors to ensure that the levies are deducted and accounted for,” he added.

Zimbabwe’s over 90,000 smallholder tobacco growers destroy an estimated 7.5 million trees annually, mainly in curing tobacco.

The tobacco industry in 2013 formed Sustainable Afforestation Association (SAA) coalition to lead afforestation projects.