National Tobacco Stalk Inspection Underway, Farmers Comply with Removal Process The Government gave tobacco growers up to January 15 instead of the stipulated December 31 deadline to clear their seedbeds.

Esther Tom

THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) yesterday confirmed that most farmers had completed destroying stalks from last season ahead of the 2023/24 season in line with the growing calls for all tobacco growers to use sustainable production methods for the crop.

Tobacco stalks should have been removed from fields by May 15 every year with offenders liable to either paying a fine or being imprisoned or both.

A first offender pays a fine not exceeding US$100 or the equivalent in local currency for each hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

For a second or subsequent conviction, an offender pays a fine not exceeding two US$200 or the equivalent in local currency for each hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

TIMB public affairs officer, Mrs Chelesani Tsarwe said farmers were complying with the requirement to remove tobacco stalks from their land ahead of a new season, as part of efforts to combat the spread of pests and diseases by disrupting their life cycles.

“TIMB in partnership with the Plant Quarantine Department have held awareness campaigns to encourage those with stalks in their fields to destroy them and most farmers of them are complying,” said Mrs Tsarwe.

She also added that preparations for the 2023/24 season, including transplanting of the irrigated crop, will be completed by 1 September.

“By 1, September the irrigated crop will be transplanted so preparations for the 2023/24 season are at an advanced stage,” said Mrs Tsarwe.

Clearing of tobacco stalks does not only mitigate potential risks but also contributes to the overall health and resilience of the tobacco industry.

According to the Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe Mr George Seremwe, farmers have been actively participating in the process in compliance with the regulation that safeguards their crops and ensures long-term sustainability.

“Farm lands are looking good for the next cropping season,” added Mr Seremwe, as he acknowledged the efforts farmers are putting to ensure the inspection process happens smoothly.

Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika also added that the joint efforts by farmers and authorities during the inspection was expected to promote a prosperous tobacco season, stimulate economic growth and sustain the livelihoods of people in the industry.

“As the inspection continues, the collective efforts of farmers and authorities are expected to contribute to a successful upcoming tobacco season, fostering economic growth and sustaining the livelihoods of those involved in the tobacco industry,” he said.

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