The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (SATTA) joined dozens of other key economic stakeholders this week at one of Africa’s largest agricultural conferences – and used the opportunity to strengthen calls for action against illegal tobacco products.
SATTA is exhibiting at the Africa Agri Tech Conference 2020, being held at Time Square in Pretoria from 18 to 20 February, to build understanding of the crucial role that legal tobacco farmers and producers play in the South African economy.
“SATTA is an important voice in conversations around the future of the tobacco industry, particularly because of the challenges we face from the illicit tobacco trade,” says SATTA chairman Shadrack Sibisi. “We will be raising our voice in coming months to ensure better understanding of the threats to our industry.”
Launched in January this year, SATTA unites all the key players in the legal production of South African tobacco products. It includes representatives from the Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association (BTFA), Limpopo Tobacco Processors (LTP) and British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa.
SATTA members currently provide jobs for almost 11 000 people in the farming, processing and manufacturing industries, across five provinces.
The Alliance 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.
“We are already putting plans in place to provide resources and expertise to rural communities, educating farmers on the best agricultural, commercial and business practices,” says Sibisi. “We are also raising our voices against those involved in illegal tobacco, who undermine the industry, consumers and the national fiscus.”
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.
“We are very concerned that not enough action is being taken against people producing and selling illicit tobacco products,” says Sibisi.
“There are now more than 164 emerging tobacco farmers and the legal industry is their only source of business.
“More than R640-million is generated by South Africa’s hard-working, legitimate commercial and emerging tobacco farmers. Their livelihood is being threatened by the illicit trade in cigarettes which costs taxpayers R21.9 million every day, threatens local jobs and damages the Government’s ability to make the necessary investments in infrastructure.”
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Note to Editors
South Africa’s Emerging Tobacco Farmers
A number of projects are already underway to train emerging farmers to become independent commercial farmers and equip them with the necessary tools and expertise.
Mpumalanga: Six growing seasons ago, 105 farmers from the province joined the Emerging Farmer Initiative (EFI), which supports, educates and empowers local farmers. Currently, these farmers are producing over 100 hectares of sun-cured virginia tobacco and 330 hectares of food crops on a rotational farming basis in Jeppes Reef, Badplaas and Steynsdorp. The community has benefited tremendously through the creation of over 530 jobs in this growing area.
Limpopo: Forty-nine black tobacco farmers are involved in different stages of setting up their farms under the EFI’s Incubation and Mentorship program. An integral part of the initiative is to establish one hectare of food crops for every one hectare of tobacco that is planted. In total, they are growing 45 hectares of sun-cured virginia tobacco and 55 hectares of food crops in four growing areas: Elandskraal, Groblersdal, Venda, and Mookgophong. Since the project started, 145 jobs have been created.
Eastern Cape: Four farmers have formed a co-operative structure at the Katriver Irrigation Scheme at Balfour in the Amatola district. The goal of the project is to grow 15 hectares of tobacco as an attempt to re-establish tobacco as a key cash crop in the Eastern Cape. In addition, 40 hectares of food crops — including maize, butternut, sweet potato and lucerne — have been planted. The co-operative, which was supported by our members with funding from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), provides over 75 jobs.
Kwazulu Natal: Five black farmers started a pilot project on a farm near Kosi Bay with the aim of growing 5 hectares of tobacco leaf to complement the cashew nut and pineapple crops they were growing at the time. Based on the success of the first growing year, the tobacco crop will be extended in the next growing season and will help create up to 20 jobs in the region.
North West Province: Twelve farmers have come together in the Skuinsdrift area to grow 33 hectares of tobacco on communal land with each farmer growing their own tobacco crop. A unique aspect of this project is the development of a central, shared cost-effective tobacco curing facility.