Mashonaland West Bureau
THE fight to curb deforestation and address climate change currently affecting the world is achievable if the Government’s rural electrification drive is expedited.
Rampant deforestation has been witnessed in tobacco producing districts with environment and agriculture experts raising fears that the golden leaf production, which generates millions of foreign currency annually, may dwindle within five years.
Thousands of indigenous trees have been cut down as farmers cure their tobacco while communities use them as sources of energy.
Speaking at Umzururu Primary School in Nyabira under Zvimba East Constituency, area legislator Cde Tawanda Tungamirai implored the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to consider expediting the drive to save trees and conserve the environment.
“There is rampant tree cutting around the area with most being used as a source of energy and curing tobacco.
“Farmers have been offered coal for tobacco curing and many have remained sceptical.
“We implore REA to also consider electrifying all rural areas to save trees, mostly the indigenous ones,” he said.
Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said climate change had affected the lives of ordinary people.
Rural communities needed to adopt other sources of energy including biogas and solar for cooking.
“Most tobacco farmers who cut down trees for curing their crop often don’t plant new trees. Last month, President Mnangagwa was in Glasgow where he joined the rest of the world’s leaders in coming up with ideas to address climate change which is emanating from how we treat the environment.
“Tobacco farmers should invest in solarised and electric powered tobacco barns that are eco-friendly,” Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said.
New climate trends emerging across the world included flooding and heat waves, which were a result of poor environmental management.
Forestry Commission provincial head, Mr Pardon Mukudo said the province joined the rest of the nation in commemorating the National Tree Planting Day with this year’s tree, Muchekecha (Musekesa) or Monkey-bread being promoted for its nutritional value for people and animals.
Recently, chiefs in the province also lamented rampant deforestation and asked the Government for arresting powers to help address the challenge.