The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance – a new economic development initiative that unites black tobacco farmers, tobacco processors and South Africa’s largest manufacturer of tobacco products – was launched in Loskop today.
The tobacco alliance brings together all the key players in the legal production of South African tobacco products and aims to stimulate economic development in rural areas, while increasing access to potential opportunities and markets for black farmers in particular.
On a broader level, it will also play a role in speeding up transformation in the agricultural sector.
Tobacco alliance members currently provide jobs for almost 11 000 people in the farming, processing and manufacturing industries, across five provinces.
“The new alliance will unlock the economic potential of the tobacco value chain, while at the same time campaigning for the interests of those involved in legitimate tobacco production,” Tobacco Transformation Alliance chairman Shadrack Sibisi said at the launch, which took place as part of the Loskop Farmers’ Day.
“We will do this by providing resources and expertise to rural communities, educating farmers on the best agricultural, commercial and business practices, and consistently pointing out how illegal tobacco products undermine the industry, consumers and the national fiscus.”
Sibisi highlighted the economic potential that exists in the tobacco industry, saying: “Our members farm, purchase, process and manufacture all the flue cured virginia and sun cured virginia tobacco leaf grown in our country. South Africa is already Africa’s fifth biggest tobacco exporter, and has the potential to become the continent’s leader in tobacco leaf farming. The Tobacco Transformation Alliance will help bring us one step closer to that, by protecting and promoting farmers’ and producers’ interests.”
The tobacco value chain already supports rural, urban and township economies through jobs, upliftment and economic activity. It is also a significant contributor to the State budget – its members paid more than R13-bn in taxes in 2018.
“There are now more than 150 emerging tobacco farmers and the legal industry is their only source of business,” Sibisi said. “The livelihood of South Africa’s hard-working, legitimate commercial and emerging tobacco farmers is under threat because of the illicit trade in cigarettes. “We are very focused on putting a stop to that. “Illicit tobacco costs taxpayers R21.9 million every day, and undermines the Government’s ability to make the necessary investments in infrastructure and social development.”
For more information, contact: Khabo Hlatshwayo: 0835077548 / firstname.lastname@example.org