Philip Morris International (PMI), the largest buyer of tobacco in Tanzania, is ramping up efforts to implement its Sustainable Tobacco Production model among the nation’s 65 000 contracted tobacco-growing families.
PMI purchases tobacco from three suppliers in Tanzania, contributing more than US$150-million annually to the economic development of the country’s rural areas.
PMI Director Leaf Africa Ben Jowett said that as part of its tobacco sourcing commitments in Tanzania, PMI supported a number of initiatives to improve the sustainability and efficiency of tobacco farmers.
“PMI recognises that with improved agricultural practices, farmers can increase their yield and quality of the leaf thus helping increase their returns,” he said.
Jowett said the focus across Africa remained on encouraging sustainable tobacco production. PMI strived to ensure the efficient and competitive production of quality tobacco in conditions that limited as much as possible the impact on the environment and improved the socioeconomic conditions of the people and communities involved.
“Sustainable tobacco production is the logical outcome, if farmers consistently apply PMI’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program,” he said. “PMI is working with suppliers and farmers on tangible projects aimed at minimizing the impact tobacco farming has on the environment, such as reforestation programmes, which last year alone saw more than six-million trees planted by smallholder farmers and more than one-million on commercial woodlots.”
PMI General Manager Eastern Africa Harjeet Grewal said that in conjunction with Tanzania Leaf Tobacco Company Limited considerable work was being done on agribusiness training and research through the Urambo Seed Farm.
“The Urambo seed farm has helped assess the processes on farms from which suppliers source tobacco and to identify opportunities for improvement,” he said. “We are now beginning to see the benefits of this in the quality and quantity of leaf produced by the farmers, many of whom participated in the workshops and have benefited from research conducted in Urambo to improve farmer productivity.”
PMI is a leading international tobacco company with an estimated 15.7% share of the total international cigarette market outside of the United States, and owns six of the top 15 international brands including Marlboro, the largest brand worldwide.