Govt mulls use of ethanol to cure tobacco

via Govt mulls use of ethanol to cure tobacco | The Herald August 21, 2015

Government is sponsoring research into the possibility of using ethanol to cure tobacco, a senior official has said. Zimbabwe is battling destruction of forests by farmers who use wood to cure the golden leaf. Alternatively, those who can afford use coal, which is more expensive, but most small-scale farmers cut down trees which are the nearest and cheapest source of energy.

Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Pattison Mbiriri said trials were underway to establish the possibility of curing the golden leaf using energy derived from ethanol.

“Government is encouraged by research which is currently underway to establish the extent to which ethanol can be used in curing tobacco,” Mr Mbiriri said.

“However ethanol is currently in limited supply but nonetheless we can very quickly and very easily grow more sugarcane and end up with more ethanol.”

It has already been established that ethanol can be used to produce electricity as the country’s sole producer of the commodity, Green Fuel, is using it to produce energy to run its production plant.

Meanwhile, Mr Mbiriri said farmers should also consider using alternative energy sources for their operations.

Biogas and biomass were some of the cheapest forms of energy that they could exploit, he said.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) estimates that the agriculture sector accounts for between five and eight percent of the country’s total energy consumption and has around 9 200 customers involved in farming.

Meanwhile, farmers owed ZETDC $76,2 million as at the end of June this year. — New Ziana.