British American Tobacco in anti -deforestation drive

CIGARETTE-MAKER British American Tobacco (BAT) has launched a rocket barn trial project in a bid to slow deforestation down as farmers cure the golden leaf, the company has said.

Report by Business Reporter

The project was a partnership between BAT and the Tobacco Research Board.

A rocket barn is an affordable, easy-to-build or retrofit tobacco barn that reduces wood consumption while improving the quality and quantity of produce, helping both smallholder farmers and the environment.

“Afforestation is a focus area BAT/NT roll-out was on in 2008 and has been very successful. (BAT forecasts) 100% self-sufficiency in wood curing fuel will be attained by 2014,” BAT said.

This, according to the company, would entail the use of timber off-cuts sourced from commercial forests for supply to farmers for tobacco curing and other domestic uses.

“In addition to planted woodlots, timber off-cuts are being sourced from commercial timber forests as a contingency measure.Rocket barns, proven to deliver up to 50% curing efficiency against the traditional conventional barns, are being rolled out to our contracted small-scale farmers.”

Meanwhile, BAT shareholders are next week expected to vote for or against a proposed indigenisation and empowerment plan that could result in the firm relinquishing 10% stake to an employee share ownership trust.

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Under the proposed plan, 26% of the company’s issued share capital would be held by indigenous Zimbabweans by October 28 2012. Shareholders would be expected to approve or disprove proposals carried in the circular at an extraordinary general meeting to be held on October 26.

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