By MAILESI BANDA
TOBACCO production is a lucrative investment opportunity for Zambia because it is 7.5 times more profitable per hectare than maize, says Roland Imperial Tobacco Company (RITCO), general manager, Aliport Ngoma.
Mr Ngoma said the crop was also 14 times more profitable than cotton and had great potential to contribute to the growth of the economy through employment generation, wealth creation and foreign exchange earnings.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Nation, Mr Ngoma said the tobacco industry had continued to increase its contribution to the growth of the economy through the creation of jobs for growers.
He noted that the tobacco industry currently employed more than 450,000 people with over 2.34 million dependents, which was nearly 20percent of Zambia’s population.
“Tobacco production is a lucrative investment opportunity in Zambia because it is 7.5 times more profitable per hectare than maize production and fourteen times more profitable than cotton.
“This sector has continued to contribute to economic growth through employment, wealth creation and foreign exchange earnings,” he said.
Mr. Ngoma explained that his company planned to increase capacity by introducing technologically advanced cigarette processing machinery.
This will greatly contribute to the industrialization of Zambia and create a market for skilled labour for both Zambians and expatriates.
He said that more jobs were expected to be created based on the growth projections of the company.
He said RITCO will play a big role in diversification of Zambia’s economy from copper mining which was also line with the Seventh National Development Plan.
Mr Ngoma said the 7th National Development plan was for increased private sector involvement in the marketing and processing of tobacco.
RITCO was exploring the prospects of the export market especially considering the geographical strategic position for exports to its eight neighboring countries and beyond.