Producing tobacco with environment in mind Vermicomposts have high porosity, aeration, drainage, water-holding capacity (nine times more than any other composts) and enhanced microbial activity, which make them excellent soil amendments or conditioners

Statistics show that communal and A1 farmers dominate deliveries to the tobacco auction and contract floors respectively

Buhle Nkomo —
It is essential for farmers to understand their environment and the threats they pose to their natural environment in order for them to successfully implement farming practices that mitigate environmental hazards and effects of climate change while producing quality yields.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) encourages tobacco growers to consider the impact of tobacco production on the environment and therefore preserve natural resources, observe good and environmentally friendly agronomic and waste management practices to mitigate climate change.

These practices should cut across from land preparation stage right through to the curing of tobacco, including water management, soil management, and pollution control on farm and fuel efficiency.

The focus for the farmers is to grow quality tobacco with minimal impact on the farm, environment and the surrounding areas.

As the rain season begins, tobacco farmers are encouraged to be sustainable-minded and engage in using an arsenal of methods to conserve water through water management and improved irrigation techniques to increase water efficiency and avoid drought.

Following all the legal environment requirements in liaison with the Environment Management Authority (EMA), farmers can build ponds or small dams to capture and store rainfall water for use throughout the season while excavation of water holding reservoirs can be done to collect water during heavy rains for future use.

After capturing water one can consider installing the water conserving drip irrigation facility for their plot or farm. One advantage of using drip irrigation is reduced risks of erosion and nutrients depletion as water and fertilisers are more easily absorbed by the soil and plants.

Major environmental related farm pollutions are water, air and soil pollution hence tobacco farmers need to protect the soil from a number of possible threats such as erosion, organic matter decline, and contamination as a way of protecting the environment.

To avoid soil pollution tobacco farmers are urged to embrace feasible techniques to provide the best possible conditions for plant growth, while avoiding possible soil loss or deterioration.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is a systematic way of controlling pests and diseases, and combines chemical, cultural and biological preventative measures into one programme allowing farmers to use pesticides when needed can be used to reduce the risk of crop loss and to minimise harm on the environment.

For appropriate and recommended chemicals in tobacco production farmers should consult with the Tobacco Research Board as environmental degradation also results from pollution from pesticides and fertilisers.

Applications of pesticides are required to protect the plant from insects and diseases however, the frequent application of pesticides decreases the long term fertility of the soil and causes soil pollution hence farmers are advised to adhere to prescribed quantities and to dispose empty pesticide containers properly so as to avoid air pollution on the farm which is of risk to the farm’s surroundings.

At the curing stage of tobacco, farmers should be worried about fuel efficiency and wood usage as deforestation is becoming a major concern in Zimbabwe thus tobacco farmers are encouraged to apply for the fuel efficient rocket barn scheme at TIMB regional offices.

The rocket barn uses less wood and fuel than the conventional model and is constructed with locally available material such as farm bricks.

Tobacco farmers are also compelled to participate in afforestation programs so as to avert deforestation problems through partnering with TIMB in the establishment of gumtree woodlots as well as consider using coal in conjunction with improved barns structures in curing rather than depending on wood alone.

Tobacco farmers are also encouraged to adopt sustainable ways of producing good quality tobacco at the same time considering their local environment and identifying and mitigating any significant risks affecting their environment.

TIMB is offering trainings on sustainable production of tobacco and good agronomic practices within the tobacco farming regions and farmers, both male and female are encouraged to attend the training sessions which are being conducted at no cost to the farmers.

For additional Information contact TIMB on telephone numbers 08677004624/6 or 0772145166/9 or 0279-22082/21982 or 025-3439 or 067-24268/29246 or 0277-2700 or 064-7280 or 0271-6772 or Toll Free Numbers 08006003 / 0731999999 / 0712832804 or e-mail: [email protected]

You Might Also Like