Government trust renewable energy in tobacco farming

Mashonaland West Provincial Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka

12 November 2019

By Nhau Mangirazi

HURUNGWE- New tobacco industry players must ensure modalities through renewable energy technologies to cure tobacco in curbing effects of climate change that impact on rainfall patterns. Zimbabwe has not been spared among Southern Africa countries due to recurrent droughts and poor rainfall patterns affecting maize production. Speaking during the official launch of Mhuri Farming tobacco seedling scheme at Kasimure village, Chief Mjinga here last Friday, Mashonaland West provincial minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said it is imperative that farmers grasp renewable energy modalities to preserve widespread deforestation rampant in farming communities. She challenged farmers to desist cutting down of trees for curing their crop. Mliswa-Chikoka said, ‘‘Hurungwe is the second largest district in the country and remains productive anchoring as the breadbasket of the country. To this end maize production may be well for us with natural good rainfall patterns, good soils and better weather around. Though we are doing better in terms of tobacco production, it is a challenge as the sector has made negative impact on our forests. It is sad that tobacco farmers are inflicting havoc due to deforestation when they cut down trees to cure their produce before sales. This is a cause of concern to us as Government. Our policies on environment and green energy are being compromised due threats on our environment and cutting down of trees. I am therefore challenging new players in the tobacco sector to focus on renewable energy methods to save our environment and natural resources. If we have trees, the rainfall patterns improve our food security and we become fully secured in our production’ Mhuri Farming Chief Executive Officer, Pardon Mhuri who is renting a fifty hectare plot where at least eight hectares of tobacco seedling said that they working hard to ensure that farmers provided with seedlings will get gum trees to maintain better trees availability around Mashonaland West province. Mhuri said, ‘ As a new player in the tobacco sector, we want to assure you Hon Minister that we will provide 400 seedlings of gum trees for every hectare of tobacco seedling given to farmers. For accountability, we have our field officers who will be monitoring the whole process so that our farmers keep our promise for green environment. This will help us keeping a green environment,’Mliswa-Chikoka called on new players to work closely with farmers to ensure that environment remains green and help climate change. ‘These assurances can make a difference as some new tobacco players are in complicit in damaging our environment through cutting down of trees,’ she added. However, Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (Karoi North) representative Mobs Chinoungwaru said the launch was ‘ill-timed’ due lack of technical expertise. ‘From our experience the seedling launch was done without considering hardening stage. They need technical support beside their financial capacity to take off this project,’ noted Chinoungwaru. Mhuri farming hosted the launch that drew several players in the sec.

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