Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 1

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58 tobaccoasia LEAF NEWS 烟叶新闻 Zimbabwe China Tops Imports Zimbabwe has earned $190.5 million from its sales of 27.3 million kilograms (m. kg) of tobacco exported all over the world since January 2016. Some 50 countries import flue-cured tobacco from Zimbabwe. Latest data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that so far 25 countries were buying Zimbabwe's "golden leaf". The tobacco is presently being exported at an average price of $6.99 per kg compared to $7.21 year-on-year. Leading the pack of major consum- ers of Zimbabwe flue-cured tobacco, China has so far spent $162.9 million importing $20 m. kg. Belgium, Indone- sia, South Africa, and Russia are among the top five countries importing tobacco from Zimbabwe. Belgium was in second place having so far imported 1.4 m. kg worth $6.6 million followed by Indone- sia 1.2 m. kg valued $6.3 million. South Africa has so far spent $2.4 million on 1 m. kg of tobacco imported from Zimbabwe since January, while Russia has imported 1 m. kg worth $3 million. Some other countries importing Zimbabwe's tobacco include the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, Netherlands, Germany, Holland, Sudan, and Tanzania. The Zimbabwe Farmers' Union in its weekly guide released at the beginning of the month said lack of confidence in prices and effects of drought have affected tobacco production this season. "The current situation is that there's a decline in the total area planted between the two years by significant four per- cent-3,860 hectares. Lack of confidence in the market prices and poor rains are some of the reasons the planted area has gone down. This is witnessed by the drop in the number of registered growers for the 2015/16 season," says the guide. Anti-Tobacco Could Kill Economy Zimbabwe's tobacco industry officials have warned that adopting harsh anti-tobacco policies will cripple the country's economy and destroy the livelihoods of more than 70,000 farmers who depend on the crop. Zimbabwe grossed US$855 million from exports of the "golden leaf" last year, compared to foreign direct investment inflows of US$555 million in 2014 and US$600 million in 2015, to underline the importance of the crop to its economy. However, there has been growing pressure from anti-smoking lobby groups for anti-tobacco legislation. Speaking at a meeting to discuss implications of the treaty, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) general manager Andrew Matibiri said Zimbabwe should benefit from tobacco as a legal commodity while protecting public health, because any restrictions and bans on tobacco would have serious implications on the livelihoods of the farmers and are sure to significantly impact the economy. International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) Francois Van de Merwe who was present at the meeting called for "reasonable regulation based on science and consultation." He said the current campaign was bent on destroying the tobacco Car shipping to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia from UK industry and had little to do with public health. Zimbabwe commands an important position in the global tobacco market accounting for about 20% of the world's flue cured tobacco output, which has contributed close to 30% of the country's foreign earnings in recent years. Kenya BAT Defends Strategy British American Tobacco (BAT) has defended its leaf-buying structure that has been criticised by tobacco growers in western Kenya. The company's purchas- ing model takes tobacco leaves from contracted farmers and pays them three days after delivery. The firm said that it had no plans to move out of the country and that it would continue contracting Kenyan farmers to grow the crop on need basis to avoid purchasing it directly from the market against industry guidelines. BAT's head of regulatory affairs Connie Anyika said the cigarette maker had no plans to move from Kenya, but would not alter its tobacco buying structure to accommodate non-contract- ed farmers. US Tobacco Cooperative Participates in Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) Program US Tobacco Cooperative Inc., an industry leader in growing, processing, and manufacturing flue- cured tobacco, is now a participant in the social responsibility in tobacco production (SRTP) pro- gram. The SRTP program ensures and recognizes that industry standards are being adhered to throughout the product cycle from seed to final delivery. SRTP balances tobacco production with positive environmental management, soil and water conservation and appropriate use of agrochem- icals. In addition, environmental and health and safety standards are also factors in the program. USTC became a supplier participant in SRTP in December 2015. "We reviewed every aspect of our business model; from how our growers manage the process from seed to harvest, to the processing of our tobacco leaf at the stemmery, to producing high-quality tobacco products. If it is part of the business cycle, we analyzed it". Said US Tobacco Cooperative chief executive officer Stuart Thompson. Tobacco growers that are members of USTC are required to act in accordance with the SRTP program. This includes but is not limited to farmer training and education, integrated pest manage- ment, soil and water conservation, farm safety, seed selection and variety performance, to the elimination of non-tobacco related material on the farm. SRTP also addresses various social and economic factors in the production of tobacco by protecting living standards, wages, and any labor issues with a focus on eliminating any child labor that would be in violation of state or federal laws. At the same time an in depth review of processing and manufacturing is undertaken to ensure a safe working environment by factoring in the environmental impact on the community and creating plans to rectify potential issues through awareness and training programs. "USTC provides appropri- ate support for all employees to ensure safety and a good working environment" said Thompson. SRTP is based on regular self-assessment and third party audits by AB Sustain. It has be- come the industry standard in tobacco production, providing guidance and support, validation, and a step-based approach to facilitate continuous improvement. The SRTP program is used globally by tobacco companies to encourage clear and consistent standards across the industry. US Tobacco Cooperative Inc. (USTC) is a grower owned marketing cooperative located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The cooperative produces US flue-cured tobacco grown by 850 member growers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Member-grown tobacco is processed and sold as raw materials to cigarette manufacturers worldwide.

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