THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) is seeking gas technology companies to partner it in establishing a centralised gas curing facility for tobacco, a move aimed at curbing the use of firewood.
Statistics show that of the total deforestation taking place throughout the country, which currently stands at 262 000 hectares per annum, 15 to 20 percent of it is attributable to tobacco growing, particularly curing.
In a statement recently, the TIMB said the centralised gas facility should allow for multiple farmers to cure their tobacco at the same time.
The partner is required to develop a pilot project which can be replicated in other tobacco growing areas.
TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo said the regulator was moving towards promoting sustainable tobacco production by finding alternatives for curing the crop other than firewood.
“This is one of the sustainable curing initiatives which we are considering as a Board. Sustainable tobacco production is the efficient production of quality tobacco, under conditions that limit negative impact on the environment. This also entails best agricultural practices that improve the socio-economic conditions of tobacco growers and communities in tobacco producing areas.
“TIMB’s commitment to promote sustainable tobacco production is also personified in the Board’s new tagline: For Livelihoods, For Sustainability. The tagline is a strong stance by all tobacco value chain players through the regulator to promote sustainable practices and operations for improved social and economic wellbeing of tobacco growers and their families,” she said.
Tobacco growing areas have been exposed to serious deforestation over the years as the ballooning number of tobacco farmers resort to indiscriminate cutting down of trees to cure the golden leaf, which has turned out to be a lucrative cash crop for thousands of households. – New Ziana