Is it possible that a new premium cigar made with a Cubra wrapper from Zimbabwe may enter the US market in the near future?
The Financial Gazette, an independent print and online newspaper in Zimbabwe, reported last week that Burma Valley smallholder farmers in Manicaland have made a breakthrough into lucrative cigar tobacco farming after clinching a market in German.
The farmers are producing a high quality strain of tobacco used to make cigar wrappers, with assistance from seasoned commercial farmer, Lindsay Guild. Wrappers are the most expensive leaf to produce, and fetch very good prices on the market. As Zimbabwe is a known producer of flue-cured tobacco (used primarily for cigarettes) since 1894, this new air-cured wrapper tobacco, known as Cubra, is groundbreaking.
For this project, Guild has partnered with Von Eicken, a German-based company which manufactures and markets cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and pipe tobacco. The venture, which was first mooted in 2013, was followed by the launch of the Cigar Wrapper Tobacco Auction Floor at Mapetu Farm in Burma Valley after a successful trial run of the top earning golden leaf last season.
This development makes Zimbabwe the third African country after Cameroon and Kenya to produce cigar wrapper tobacco, which fetches higher prices on the market. Guild said plans were underway to seek more foreign markets since cigar tobacco was on high demand in America, United Kingdom and neighboring South Africa. Von Eicken indicated that they selected Burma Valley owing to its lucid climatic conditions, which was suitable for the growth of cigar tobacco. The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association claims that the country's climate is favorable to the growing of tobacco, and that the crop does well on sandy loam soils where most grain crops would require a lot of fertilizers.