Cigar wrapper production in Zimbabwe: an overview of past, present and future prospects
The cigar wrapper tobacco type was once grown in Zimbabwe in the early 1950s in a project that was championed by British American Tobacco (BAT). However, production was stifled owing to viability challenges coupled with loss of interest from growers. There has been renewed interest in the growing of cigar wrappers in Zimbabwe spurred by a variety of reasons such as worldwide demand and forestry conservation. To serve this niche market, the Tobacco Research Board has for the past five years focalised agronomic research and the development of new varieties with improved yields, enhanced foliar disease resistance and excellent cigar wrapper cured leaf quality. However, to resuscitate cigar wrapper production in Zimbabwe, a review of the past is critical. A thorough scrutiny of the bottlenecks, challenges faced and current and prevailing opportunities is necessary. This presentation will provide perspectives and insights into the significance of cigar wrapper production in Zimbabwe, historical background, current status, major limitations and opportunities. The paper will offer strategic information to be utilised by researchers, investors, leaf merchants, policymakers and other stakeholders on cigar wrapper production in Zimbabwe.