Zimbabwe Seeks to Switch to Gas for Curing

    Photo: Taco Tuinstra

    Zimbabwe wants to replace wood with gas as fuel source for tobacco curing to curb deforestation, reports Xinhua News Agency, citing the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

    The TIMB said it is seeking gas technology companies to partner with it in establishing a centralized gas curing facility for tobacco. Such a facility should allow for multiple farmers to cure their tobacco at the same time, the regulator noted.

    According to the TIMB, of the 262,000 hectares lost to deforestation in Zimbabwe every year, 15 to 20 percent of this is attributable to tobacco growing, particularly curing. 

    “This is one of the sustainable curing initiatives which we are considering as a board,” TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo was quoted as saying. “Sustainable tobacco production is the efficient production of quality tobacco, under conditions that limit the negative impact on the environment. This also entails the best agricultural practices that improve the socio-economic conditions of tobacco growers and communities in tobacco-producing areas.” 

    Zimbabwe’s policy of promoting small-scale production has accelerated deforestation as farmers indiscriminately cut down of trees to cure the golden leaf.

    Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners. 

     Last year, the country sold 186.6 million kg of tobacco leaf valued at $515.9 million, up 16.8 percent in volume and 31 percent in value over sales in 2020.