THE tobacco industry intends to increase production next year from the current 23 million tonnes to about 30 million tonnes to promote the local producers as they expand their businesses. Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) chairman Rhidah Mung’omba said in an interview that tobacco was an important crop and part of agriculture which contributed 3 percent of Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “Tobacco is part of agriculture; it contributes 3 percent of the GDP, it can improve. Agriculture is not just something you can eat, it is a contribution to the economy by everybody. “Part of our plans for next year is that we intend to increase production from 23 million tonnes to maybe about 30 million tonnes; this will enable us to also increase tobacco exports,” he said. Mr Mungomba said it was a responsibility of every grower to promote and support the tobacco industry. “The most important thing is that the board itself should sit and see if everybody contributes because tobacco is a controlled crop. “Every grower should be registered, every merchandise should be registered including every manufacturer. We have to control it from the start,” he said. He also said the performance of the tobacco industry in 2016 had so far been stable. Mr Mungomba explained that the industry performed relatively well despite being faced with challenges that had hit the global market and reduced demand for the commodity. “The performance of the sector has also been affected by the world drivers; once there is no too much demand we are affected, but so far so good,” he said.