Only 54% of tobacco farmers have complied with a government directive to destroy all stalks of the crop, risking an outbreak of potato virus Y (PVY), which affects the golden leaf, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
Speaking at an Indaba held at Tobacco Research Board (TRB) offices early this week, Plant Quarantine Service Institute acting head, Luiza Makumbe said the stalks caused a number of viruses that infect tobacco.
“A number of viruses infest tobacco resulting in the production of poor quality leaf, and these stalks are dangerous to tobacco plant,” she said.
“The Plant, Pests and Diseases (Tobacco) Regulations SI 711 of 1979 was enacted in order to restrict the incidence and spread of such insect – borne viruses through enforcing the destruction of tobacco stalks.
“According to Agritex, only 54% of our farmers have destroyed their stalks, this is not quite good since all diseases come from undestroyed stalks.”
Complacency and failure to adhere to the well-established recommended practices such as the legislated stalk destruction date, has resulted in a severe threat to the tobacco industry by the aphid-transmitted PVY.
According to TRB, currently, there are no tobacco varieties resistant to PVY in Zimbabwe and research is underway to create resistant varieties.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s second highest earner of foreign currency and at the end of last week, the country had earned $123,4 million from 28,4 million kg of tobacco exported mainly to Indonesia and China since the beginning of the year.