By KENNEDY MUPSENI –
JAPAN Tobacco International (JTI) Leaf Zambia has invested K12 million on inputs and out-grower schemes for tobacco production in this year’s farming season.
Company managing director Robert Royle said JTI had invested K12 million this farming season compared to K11 million in 2013.
“Zambia has got a lot of potential for the growing of various agriculture products, since we started operating in the country the company’s overall production has increased,” Mr Royle said.
In a presentation at the Zambia-Japan Trade and Investment Promotion in Lusaka on Wednesday, Mr Royle said last year the company recorded a total of K44 million turnover.
Mr Royle said the company was working with more than 15 commercial farmers in Eastern, Central and Western provinces of Zambia.
He said the company was providing inputs and financial support to farmers to ease the challenges of limited access to finance.
Mr Royle said the company had engaged in research to develop tobacco varieties which would contribute to improved seed varieties, adding that this was a major challenge tobacco farmers faced in the country.
He said the company had acquired land in Chisamba to carry out the project, saying this would have a positive implication on the growth of the tobacco industry in the country.
Mr Royle urged Government to consider putting up a policy framework to reduce the challenge of land acquisition in the country.
He said it was difficult to acquire land in Zambia because of the tedious processes and that traditional rulers were reluctant to release land for investment.
Mr Royle also said access to finance for farmers was limited as most banks were not giving loans to farmers a situation which was impacting negatively on the growth of the agriculture industry in general.
He, however, said Zambia stood out as the best investment destination in Africa looking at the stability of the country’s economy in the past 10 years.