HARARE – Government says flue tobacco farmers should use coal as an alternative to wood in as part of measures to enhance sustainable land use and productivity in resettled areas.
Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has said the cutting down of trees for curing tobacco was detrimental to the environment and could easily turn the country into desert, if left unabated.
He said Government stakeholders such as the Environment Management Agency (EMA) in partnership with local leadership were on the lookout for perpetrators causing damage to the environment.
“The cutting down of trees must stop forthwith. Flue cured tobacco farmers are encouraged to use coal and not cut down trees as they are currently doing.
“Our local leadership, working with Government personnel from EMA, Agritex and our security establishment should assist to make sure that any perpetrators are brought to book and this distructive practice is nipped in the bud in order to save our precious environment for future generations,” he said.
There has been concerns among resettled tobacco farmers that the cost of coal was too high and unsustainable, therefore the use of wood.
Minister Shiri however said Government would continue to provide conducive policies that enable both production and productivity in resettled areas to maintain the growth trajectory in the sector.
“On its part Government will continue to give the enabling policy guidelines and the necessary technical and extension support services in order to facilitate the efforts of the farmers and other stakeholders in this effort,” he said.
To achieve this farmers also needed to adhere to guidelines that enable productivity in a sustainable manner.
In light of this, Government has encouraged farmers to have land use plans that will guide their land utilisation.
On the other hand, Government would continue to monitor and train farmers on sound crop and livestock husbandry, soil, water conservation and agri-business in general in order to improve production and productivity on the farms.