$18,5 million which has raised since the government introduced an Afforestation Levy to all tobacco farmers in 2015 is yet to be used for its intended purpose, owing to alleged administrative hurdles.
It is now three years after the launch of the levy in line with meeting the guidelines on sustainable tobacco farming practices, and the money is allegedly still lying idle owing to red tape.
Of the amount, $4 million had been released to the Tobacco Industries Marketing Board (TIMB) by treasury before parliament raised a red flag over why the fund was not administered by the Forestry Commission, leading to its freeze.
TIMB Spokesperson, Mr Isheunesu Moyo said in the interim, the board, as the regulator of the lucrative golden leaf, has mobilised $2 million for planting of 2000 hectares of trees in major tobacco growing provinces to meet the requirements of the global tobacco cigarette companies guidelines.
Tobacco merchants and their contracted farmers have also planted 14000 hectares of woodlots to cure tobacco, while the TIMB awaits administrative processes stalling the release of the Afforestation Fund to increase the tree planting drive to 20000 hectares of woodlots per year.
The global tobacco cigarette companies guidelines of 2016 stipulate that as from 2020, global cigarette companies will not buy tobacco cured using coal or produced in an unsustainable manner.