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Tobacco farmers growing in Zimbabwe

| November 12, 2014

At least 86,751 farmers in Zimbabwe have registered to grow tobacco during the 2014-15 season, up from 83,668 who had applied by the corresponding period in 2013, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board says.

At least 40,359 of the farmers who want to grow the crop are communal-based, translating to 46 percent of the growers who have registered while small-scale commercial farmers account for the least number at 6,825, representing just 8 percent of the total, with 510 of them having registered for the first time.

Growers registering for the first time numbered 16,067 compared with 25,728 who registered in the corresponding period last year. Communal farmers constitute 9,886 of the total number of new tobacco growers for 2014-15 season.

During the 2013 marketing season, a total of 106,455 farmers sold tobacco at the auction floors. Production of the golden leaf in Zimbabwe surged at the turn of the millennium with farmers in communal areas catching up to growing the crop.

At least 217 million kilogrammes of tobacco were produced in 2013, raking in $700 million, the most in 14 years as the rebound in output continued, driven by small-scale farmers, good rains, organized marketing and experience that producers have acquired to date. The last time output surpassed 210 million kg was in 2000 when it reached 227.7 million kg.

Tobacco to take to the sky

| August 18, 2014

Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG have announced they are collaborating to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant, according to a story in the Nigerian Tribune.

This initiative broadens cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa’s goals for public health as well as economic and rural development.

Speaking on the deal, J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International, said that: “It’s an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant.

“South Africa is leading efforts to commercialise a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and advance the region’s economy.”

SkyNRG is expanding production of the hybrid plant known as Solaris as an energy crop that farmers could grow instead of traditional tobacco.

Tobacco the crop of choice in Zimbabwe

| May 9, 2013

Zimbabwe had sold 107 million kg of flue-cured tobacco for a total of $400 million by the end of the 55th day of sales, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.

By the same stage of last season’s sales, 84 million kg of flue-cured had been sold for  $315 million.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board was said to be confident that this season’s 170 million kg target would be surpassed.

And the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union vice president, Johnson Mapira, was quoted as saying that tobacco production was expected to continue to increase because of favourable farm prices. Tobacco was the only crop where farmers were guaranteed good prices and instant cash.

Mapira said the good payment method used in respect of tobacco sales meant that tobacco farmers did not have problems paying their workers. And he said that farmers were now using some of the proceeds from tobacco to support other projects.

China: HongyunHonghe launches cigarette-processing unit in Africa

| April 25, 2013

HongyunHonghe Tobacco Group, in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, recently launched its cigarette-processing unit for Africa at the Walvis Bay port in Namibia.

The project is intended to produce HongyunHonghe’s Yunyan, Honghe, Honghe and Honghe brands for sale in Africa.

The annual production capacity of the unit could reach 1 billion cigarettes.


| June 5, 2011

Currently waiting at Washington Dulles for the last leg of my return trip to Raleigh-Durham. The flight from Addis Ababa arrived early and I could probably have caught an earlier onward flight to RDU—but United Airlines now charges $75 for traveling standby, so as a good Dutchman I’ll keep the cash in my pocket and wait for the scheduled flight.

Everything is considered “extra” if you fly economy in the U.S. these days—peanuts, checked luggage, earphones. It won’t be long until they start charging for the life vests as well. The airlines’ marketing people will surely find a way to sell the floatation devices as added comfort “in the unlikely event of an emergency.”

The flight from Addis made (for me) an unexpected stop in Rome, which explains the whopping 17-hour-and-25-minute flying time to Washington. It’s interesting to see old colonial ties between countries persisting in the routing of flights. When I traveled to Rwanda last year, the connection was through Brussels.

The dearth of flights between Harare and London, on the other hand, reflects the frosty relationship between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master. Come to think of it, there aren’t too many airlines calling on the Harare’s gleaming airport, which opened only a few years ago. Aside from two seemingly mothballed Air Zimbabwe aircraft, our Ethiopian Airlines plane was the only one on the tarmac yesterday.

I have filled several notebooks on this trip, and I am still not sure if I have a good grasp on the Zimbabwean situation. Has land reform succeeded or has not? Hopefully I can put the pieces together as I review my notes this week.

In the meantime, I will have to unlearn some of the driving habits I acquired during my stay in Zimbabwe, especially around intersections.

The worst traffic situations didn’t involve traffic lights that were disabled, but those that worked partially—with only the green bulb functioning, for example. On several occasions, the only clues about the colors of the lights came from the horn blowing and hand gestures from fellow motorists.

VPN fun

| June 4, 2011

As tobacco veterans know, travel is hurry up and wait. During the down times you need something to entertain yourself. Technology makes that easier.

I have downloaded to my smart phone an application that allows me to access my computer at work. That enhances productivity, but it can also be used to play tricks on your co-workers.

For example, Google’s translation service ( has a function that lets your PC articulate the translated sentence. That’s handy if you’re not sure to how to pronounce words in a foreign language, but you can also use it to make your computer say bad words.

Last night, I spent part of my evening at York Lodge instructing my computer in Raleigh, N.C., to utter inappropriate statements.

It kept me entertained for a good hour, trying to picture my startled co-workers trying to figure out where the bad language was coming from.

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a reaction yet, which can mean two things: Either my speakers were turned off (I cannot activate those remotely), or the company president happened to be standing nearby just as I was typing vulgarities. In the latter case, this might be my last post as editor of Tobacco Reporter.