Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
SOUTH AFRICA-BASED cigarettes manufacturer, Gold Leaf Tobacco will consider introducing farmers support schemes in the country as part of helping local farmers who will support its proposed processing plant to be set in two years.
Gold Leaf Tobacco Zimbabwe country manager Mr Tanaka Matimbe said the company had managed to gain considerable market share in the country since it started to market its three brands under the Ruddland and George brand in August last year.
“The industry has been highly competitive. It’s exciting. We believe there is room for people to play. We have come in with an affordable product and we hope we will take the market share from some of the dominant players in the market.
“We believe there is more space for people to play and we are here to stay.
“The competition has been great, smoking is a habit which is very difficult to change, we are targeting those people who have already made the decision to smoke. We are hoping that within those people that are loyal to other brands there should be able to shift to our product given that we are affordable,” said Mr Matimbe.
He said with the company getting about 80 percent of its tobacco input locally it is prudent for it to support local growers.
The cigarette manufacturer imports other varieties such as burley and oriental from Malawi and Europe respectively.
“At the moment we haven’t done any out grower or farmer support. It is something that we are looking at as a business and how best we can do it. I would give it up to 12 to 18 months for us to polish out how best we can do it for us to help out the farmers, we will do consultations. Interestingly enough 80 percent of our tobacco input comes from Zimbabwe . . . it is one of the biggest producers of tobacco in the world,” said Mr Matimbe.
He said the company was also considering setting up a plant in Zimbabwe as well as exploring the entire region and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern (Comesa) trading bloc.
Tobacco is the country’s second largest foreign currency earner. Its projected output for this year is expected to be 200 kilogrammes despite concerns that heavy rains could militate against a better yield.
“We are already setting out plans to set-up a plant next year. At the moment we cannot say how much we will invest for competitive strategy but I promise that we will definitely come.
“We are also marketing our product in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and we are currently in Namibia and Botswana.
“We are looking to grow the business. We are taking baby steps and expanding throughout the region. We are hoping to be in Comesa as well,” said Mr Matimbe.