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Zimbabwe Tobacco Production Seen Falling to New Lows

Zimbabwean production of tobacco, traditionally an important crop for bringing in hard currency, is seen collapsing this year to some 50 million kilograms, an 80% drop from a record 270 million kilos in 2000 before farm takeovers devastated agriculture.

The latest decline in the key agricultural segment has shocked the government. State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa threatened action against so-called new farmers on properties seized since 2000 in the land redistribution program who he accused of converting government-provided seed, fertilizer and other inputs into cash.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked independent economist James Jowa of Harare for his thoughts about the debacle in tobacco.

Meanwhile, the Commercial Farmers Union appealed to President Robert Mugabe and the nation at large to put a stop to ongoing farm takeovers to give the deeply troubled farming sector the breathing space it needs to stage a recovery.

CFU President Douglas Freeme-Taylor told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri Mr. Mugabe must declare a moratorium on farm seizures to avert a deeper food crisis.

More reports from VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe…