Stakeholders at the Africa Environment Day asked whether it was possible to levy tobacco farmers in order to replenish trees cut down to cure the crop.Forestry Commission General Manager, Darlington Duwa, said they were working on a legal instrument to prevent against deforestation.
“The instrument will force farmers to set aside land for the growing of trees to be used during tobacco curing and these will be fast growing trees,” said Duwa. “Our research division is working on fast growing tree varieties and the law we are talking about is almost 80% complete and should come into effect very soon.”
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture blamed the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for the behavior of new farmers.
“They resort to cutting down trees because ZESA switches them off at a very critical stage of preparing their tobacco crop and they are left with no option.We also are aware that they are poor and do not have the resources to use best practices so we are not looking at levying anyone,” the official said.
Many indigenous trees have come under threat such as Musasa and Mupfuti trees and areas such as Hurungwe are fast turning to desert. According to a non-governmental organization, more than 1000 indigenous trees are felled each year by tobacco farmers in the area.
Environment Friends, a local NGO, has embarked on an awarenesscampaign to educate tobacco farmers on the need to conserve indigenous trees.Project Coordinator, Arnold Chideme, said they would provide tobacco farmerswith seedlings of fast growing tree varieties such as gum trees.
“Ittakes decades for indigenous trees to grow so farmers should learn to subsidise,” said Chideme.Post published in: Environment