BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
THE Forestry Commission is contemplating a ban on the use of indigenous trees to cure tobacco by 2020 to curb deforestation.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism on the state of the forestry sector in Zimbabwe yesterday, Forestry Commission general manager Abedinigo Marufu said tobacco curing accounts for most of the indigenous tree logging in the country.
“Between 15% and 30% deforestation is due to tobacco curing. While we might want to stop them, we agreed with them that next year, 2020, we are going to be banning the use of indigenous trees for tobacco curing,” he said.
Marufu said by 2020, farmers should have licences that prove that they have established woodlots or that they use coal to cure their crop.
“Every farmer who is going to grow tobacco must have a certificate that proves they have woodlots that they established or that they have coal used for curing tobacco. But we are going to use this year to educate and raise awareness,” he said.
Tobacco is one of the country’s top foreign currency earners, but its production has come at a cost to the environment, with most of the smallholder farmers depending on wood to fuel their bans.
Marufu said deforestation is rampant in Mashonaland provinces, where tobacco is mostly grown.