Hwange Colliery to lend coal to tobacco farmers

13 Nov, 2015 - 00:11 0 Views

The Herald

Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Hwange Colliery Company will next year lend tobacco growers coal for curing, a move likely to reduce deforestation in farming areas. Speaking at the close of the 2015 marketing season and National Tobacco Workshop held in Harare recently, Hwange Colliery sales and marketing manager Mrs Debra Malandu said the company also planned to cut the price of coal to make it affordable to rural tobacco farmers.

She said many tobacco farming communities could not afford coal to cure their tobacco because it was too expensive.

“Many people in the communal areas do not have access to electricity.

“We realised most small-scale farmers are growing tobacco. We are targeting to lend farmers producing between 0,2 hectares and five hectares,” Mrs Malandu said.

“There is a myth that coal is expensive, but when considering the properties, it is efficient in terms of the heat produced. Coal is also good for the environment and a good alternative to firewood.

“In 2016 we will continue to adjust coal prices because we have acquired new machinery, which will reduce costs.”

Tobacco Research Board general manager Dr Dehlia Garwe said the institution would come up with technology to reduce firewood consumption during tobacco curing.

“We are curbing curing related deforestation. We came up with a rocket barn but found that it had the challenge of high fuel consumption,” she said.

“We have come up with the Kutsaga Counter Current Barn, which is homegrown.

“This barn uses 3 to 3,5kg of wood to cure a kilogramme of tobacco.

“Farmers can also use biogas but there is need to increase the size of the digester.”

A tobacco specialist, Mr Lovegot Tendengu, said while the project was good, the major challenge facing farmers was transportation of the coal from Hwange to farming communities.

“Coal is cheap but the National Railways of Zimbabwe is the major challenge,” he said.

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