Merchants to Finance Woodlots in Zimbabwe

    Since Zimbabwe's land reform program at the turn of the millennium, the main source of energy for tobacco curing has been wood—a development that has contributed to deforestation. (Photo: Taco Tuinstra)

    Leaf merchants operating in Zimbabwe will be required to finance the planting of trees on 0.2 hectares for every hectare of tobacco contracted starting this year, reports The Herald. Firewood is the principal source of energy for curing tobacco in Zimbabwe.

    With close to 150,000 farmers, the tobacco industry has been blamed for a massive deforestation in Zimbabwe.

    Prior to Zimbabwe’s land reform program at the turn of the millennium, the main source of energy for curing tobacco was coal. The tobacco industry was dominated by large, mostly white-owned plantations at the time.

    Today’s tobacco sector, by contrast, is dominated by smallholder farmers who cannot afford coal and the associated infrastructure.

    Rodney Abrose, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, said alternative fuels are needed more than ever.

    “Provision of coal is not a sustainable source, and in the near future, tobacco cured with nonsustainable curing fuel may not be accepted by key customers,” he said.