Tobacco cur­ing de­vice boost for farm­ers

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Mashonaland Central & West News - Wal­ter Nya­mukondiwa Chin­hoyi Bureau

CON­SER­VA­TION­ISTS, Car­bon Green, have come up with a so­lar pow­ered tobacco cur­ing de­vice that is ex­pected to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the use of firewood in the pro­cess­ing of tobacco.

Pre­lim­i­nary find­ings show that farm­ers us­ing the de­vice have re­duced the amount of firewood they use in the cur­ing process by 50 per­cent.

Known as the So­lar Jet Fan, the de­vice is on trial in Hu­rungwe’s Kazan­garare area where find­ings have also shown in­creased pro­duc­tion of tobacco by con­tracted farm­ers.

Pre­vi­ously small-scale tobacco farm­ers were sell­ing coal re­ceived un­der con­tract to com­mer­cial farm­ers owing to the in­com­pat­i­bil­ity of their tobacco barns.

De­mand for firewood has grown ex­po­nen­tially as more farm­ers turn to tobacco pro­duc­tion due to bet­ter re­turns.

In an in­ter­view, Car­bon Green Kariba Redd++ project rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mr Jeremiah Ma­tiza said the project should be adopted by tobacco con­tract­ing firms to in­crease its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“We de­cided to have a pi­lot project in Hu­rungwe’s Kazan­garare area so that the com­mu­nity will have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ben­e­fits of adopt­ing it to re­duce the use of firewood, which has had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“The re­sults are pos­i­tive with one farmer record­ing a reduction of 50 per­cent in the use of firewood.

“With the So­lar Jet Fan farm­ers need five bags of coal per barn while there is a cor­re­spond­ing reduction in the num­ber of days used in cur­ing the tobacco.”

Com­po­nents of the jet fan in­clude a so­lar panel and bat­tery, which can also be used for do­mes­tic pur­poses.

The project also saw the in­volve­ment of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency.

A pro­gres­sive reduction in the use of firewood, Mr Ma­tiza said would en­hance re­for­esta­tion.

Tobacco barns used by most com­mu­nal and small-scale farm­ers were de­signed to use firewood.

“Most farm­ers are not us­ing coal in cur­ing their tobacco de­spite it com­ing as part of their in­puts pack­age owing to the de­sign of the barns.

“The Jet Fan does not need any struc­tural changes to the barns, but al­lows the use of coal,” he said.

The com­plete set ranges be­tween $700 and $800.

Although coal is a bit ex­pen­sive, it has been found to be rel­a­tively friendly to the en­vi­ron­ment com­pared to the use of firewood, which has led to de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

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