Conrad Mupesa Herald Correspondent
Most tobacco farmers continue to shun the use of alternative curing fuel, preferring wood, leading to massive deforestation in areas such as Mhangura and Karoi. This is despite efforts to popularise the use of alternative fuel to cure the golden leaf. The farmers said they were sceptical of using alternative fuel such as coal to cure tobacco.
“There is not much information on other methods such as coal because there is a belief that coal produces carbon monoxide which is potentially hazardous,” said a farmer from Mauya village in Karoi. Use of firewood is the method that we are traditionally accustomed to.” Other farmers from Chipiri, Chitatu, Jechenene and surrounding areas in Mhangura said firewood was easily available and cheaper, compared to buying charcoal and coal.
“I do not see anything wrong in using firewood to dry our tobacco as long as farmers plant more trees to replace the ones they would have cut,” said Jonah Tengware at the Nivanna resettlement area in Mhangura. Some farmers said tobacco contracting companies were charging more for charcoal and coal, which made the environmentally friendly fuel unattractive.
“Tobacco companies sell charcoal to farmers on credit and the amount will be deducted when one goes to sell the tobacco,” said Mr Ivene Hondoma of Matau village in Hurungwe. It is an unnecessary expense that I can avoid by using trees to dry my tobacco. It eats into our profits.” Boka Auction Floors chief executive Mrs Rudo Boka-Mutambanengwe told farmers at a recent Hurungwe District Agricultural Show that they should use alternative means to cure their tobacco.