A number of tobacco bells are still lying idle without any market in Eastern Province.
Japan Tobacco International Company JTI Regional Manager, Ezekiel M’tonga says that this is because the company concentrates on buying quality tobacco from farmers.
Mr. M’tonga says some farmers grow poor quality tobacco, which makes it difficult for the company to buy because it does not have any value.
Mr. M’tonga also revealed that there is a lot of tobacco from neighbouring Malawi and Mozambique coming into Zambia but the quality of the crop is very poor, making it difficult for the company to buy the crop.
He says at the moment, Zambia is the only country producing the best tobacco recognized on the international market.
Mr. M’tonga was responding to concerns raised by Chipata Mayor, Sinoya Mwale that JTI is selective in the way it buys tobacco, leaving some farmers stranded with the crop.
Meanwhile five classroom blocks that have been rehabilitated at a cost of 120 thousand United State dollars at Vizenge and Sisinje Primary schools in Chipata are today being handed over to government.
The classroom blocks have been rehabilitated by Japan Tobacco International Company, JTI.
JTI Regional Manager, Ezekiel M’tonga says the company has also donated computers worth 18 thousand US dollars to the Ministry of Education in the province.
Mr. M’tonga added that the company assisted in alleviating water challenges in Chipangali by drilling 96 boreholes since its inception and 37 boreholes this year.
He was speaking this morning when he paid a courtesy call on Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo.
Mr. Mtonga says the company is providing services to the area as a way of giving back to the community for their good farming services.
And Provincial Education Officer, Allan Lingambe thanked the company for assisting the Ministry of Education with computers and rehabilitating classroom blocks.
He says the gesture has come at a right time when the education sector is facing challenges with computers in schools.
And Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo called on the private sector to emulate JTI by assisting governments’ efforts in addressing challenges being faced by most people in the community.