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Modified barns set to reduce deforestation

THE use of energy efficient tobacco curing barns will go a long way in reducing deforestation in the country, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has said.

Speaking at a research project workshop held yesterday in Chinhoyi, Zera chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani said stakeholders should adopt environmentally friendly ways to cure the golden leaf.

 “One of the key research findings is that the modified barn is more energy efficient and requires only 47-50 percent of the wood-fuel required in a conventional barn.

“The uptake of low cost, energy efficient barns for tobacco curing should, therefore, increase, from today henceforth. We strongly rely on our Tobacco Research Board, Agritex and farmers represented here to be advocates of this new development in the tobacco industry.

“The authority is calling upon all stakeholders, particularly the tobacco industry and tobacco farmers, to take up the findings of this research project for implementation as it is envisaged to significantly reduce the cutting down of trees as well as reduction of carbon emissions,” he said.

 Mazambani added that the agrarian industry is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

“The agricultural sector contributes the highest share of GHG emissions in the country and it is therefore imperative that energy efficient tobacco curing bans be promoted countrywide to curb carbon emissions which contribute to climate change.

“In 2015 the Forestry Commission and Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that tobacco curing was responsible for about 15 percent deforestation in the country.

“The tobacco industry is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, and this research is there to ensure that industry operates in a sustainable way,” he said.

 Meanwhile, global markets are now demanding sustainably produced tobacco, the Tobacco Marketing Industry Board CEO Meanwell Gudu said recently at a media interface.

 “China, which is Zimbabwe’s biggest market, has begun to embrace these sustainable tobacco program guidelines.

 “Developed countries are enforcing supply chain laws precluding the sourcing of products tainted by unsustainable practices.

 “As an example, Malawian tobacco and tobacco products were recently banned for importation into United States of America due to non-compliance of forced and child labour concerns.

 “The major environmental issues of concern to our customers are climate change, cigarette companies are shifting towards carbon neutrality and use of renewable energy,” he said.

by

Melisa Chatikobo

STAFF WRITER

chatikobom@dailynews.co.zw