Tobacco curing device boost for farmers
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.