Source: ‘Accelerate coal delivery to tobacco growing areas’ | The Herald August 2, 2019
Chipo Katsidzira Manicaland Correspondent
THERE is need to accelerate coal distribution in all tobacco growing areas and encourage the development of gumtree woodlots to minimise deforestation.
Agronomist Mr Douglas Nzarayebani said while tobacco was partly to blame for deforestation, a lot could still be done to promote its production without harming the environment.
He said tobacco farmers in Manicaland province were being registered to timeous coal allocation in a bid to avert over reliance on wood fuel for curing.
“We have abundant coal supplies, which can be used for tobacco curing, but the major problem is its movement from Hwange Colliery to our tobacco-growing districts,” he said.
“The tobacco industry is looking at alternative barns that will require less or even no wood for tobacco curing. We also need to invent tobacco curing barns that use coal without the need of electricity fans.”
Mr Nzarayebani said Government should tighten screws on tobacco growers and make sure they are compelled to establish woodlots.
So far five million gum tree seedlings have been distributed by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) in Manicaland.
“TIMB has also provided funds for the procurement of seedlings for the establishment of gum tree woodlots, and so far the board has funded the project in Makoni, Macheke and Mufusire, among others,” said Mr Nzarayabani.
He disputed assertions that tobacco growers were major architects of deforestation in the country.
“Tobacco is only cured during a very short period from December to February, and trees are being destroyed all year round, which shows that tobacco growers are not the main causers of deforestation in the country,” he said.
TIMB is encouraging farmers to spare indigenous trees when cutting wood for fuel. A number of tobacco growers have established woodlots and some have already started harvesting the trees for fuel.