Pressure from anti-smoking activists has impacted on the price of tobacco and Classic cigarettes which currently stands at about US$2.66 per kg from about US$3.43 per kg last year.
Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) general manager Knox Mbazima said the price has gone down due to the World Health Organisation (WHO) framework convention on tobacco control which sets out specific steps for governments to address tobacco use and adopt tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption.
Mr Mbazima said the sector is no longer profitable, adding that the cost of production is high at about US$10,000 per hectare.
“We have faced a lot of challenges such as low prices and the pressure is too much for the farmer especially that the production cost has gone up. It is difficult for the farmer to break even with such prices,” he said.
Mr Mbazima said this in an interview in Lusaka recently, adding that there is need to reduce the cost of production if the farmers are to break even.
Mr Mbazima said while the price of tobacco is not controlled locally, there is need for the country to reduce the cost of fertiliser and fuel.
“We do not control the price of tobacco as the price is controlled externally, but as a country we can bring down the cost of production by reducing the cost of fertiliser and fuel,” he said.
He, however, said the number of TAZ members has increased with small-scale farmers being the majority. Mr Mbazima said the association currently has about 2,000 members out of which 1,800 are small-scale farmers.
He said tobacco has increased on the TAZ floor to over 16 million kgs from 12 million kgs last year representing a 25 percent increase.