Tobacco plantation good for Namibian economy

22 Apr 2015 16:30pm
WINDHOEK, 22 APR (NAMPA) – The Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Xin Shunkang says a tobacco plantation will be beneficial to the Namibian economy.
He motivated such a project saying a similar one in Zimbabwe is working well and that country is now one of the major tobacco exporters in the world.
“Zimbabwe's tobacco quality is very good and they have earned a lot of money through it. So, I have suggested that Chinese companies teach Namibian farmers how to plant tobacco, for them to also earn money through this,” said Xin on the sideline of a welcoming function for 15 Chinese experts in agriculture here on Wednesday.
The experts came on request by the Namibian Government and within the framework of its agreement with the government of the People's Republic of China, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).
Agriculture minister John Mutorwa, with FAO Representative, Babagana Ahmadu also in attendance, received the experts in agriculture from China.
Xin’s comments are in reference to a tobacco plantation envisaged for Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region on a 10 000-hectare piece of land.
N.dollars 1 billion will be invested in the project.
“I want to clarify that the tobacco produced here will not be sold or used in Namibia. Once there is a plantation and after the processing, it will be moved to the Chinese market,” said the ambassador.
Xin said Chinese investors are ready and waiting to commence with the project.
He further said the tobacco plantation will be alternated with the planting of maize.
Last month, many Namibians, including former health minister Richard Kamwi, local conservationists and suspended Swapo youth politician Job Amupanda criticised the proposed sale of 10 000 hectares of forestland to a Chinese company called Namibia Oriental Tobacco cc.
Amupanda said it was not correct to award land to the Chinese, when Namibians seriously need land and that the country's most fertile land is used to produce drugs and not food.
Kamwi said tobacco is not in the best interest of Namibians, adding that it will be a “deadly thing” among communities.
Local conservationists warned that a tobacco plantation will have devastating effects on the environment and community, further stating that the likelihood of the 3 000 locals and their families, who will be employed on the plantation, could take up smoking.