Tiens invests US$50m in tobacco annually

Ominous Tobacco Field at dusk. Notice two iny windmills visible on the horizon

Chinese firm, Tiens Group says it invests an estimated US$50 million in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector every year as part of its contribution to the agriculture sector, which drives the country’s economic growth.

The funding goes towards inputs procurement and other requirements for tobacco production under the company’s contract farming programme. Tobacco is the country’s second single biggest foreign currency earner after gold. During the 2018 tobacco selling season, the company purchased almost half of the total tobacco production, according to the Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Zhao Baogang.

“Chinese firms have interest in agriculture as well, not only energy,” he said at a two day Zimbabwe Multi-Stakeholder Public Debt Conference by African Forum and Network on Debt Development (AFRODAD) and the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) which ended yesterday in the capital.

“As China, we are doing our best to support Zimbabwe in every way possible for its benefit. Tiens pours over US$50 million every year into the tobacco sector. The company also ensures they buy tobacco at a relatively higher price than the one prevailing on the market,” he said.

The deputy ambassador was responding to assertions that the world’s second largest economy only has interests in the energy sector at the expense of other key productive sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture that are key in the industrialisation agenda.