Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Cutting down trees backfires for villagers

Cutting down trees backfires for villagers


Conrad Mupesa Chinhoyi Bureau
Traditional leaders in Hurungwe District have tightened screws on people illegally cutting down trees, especially during the tobacco-curing season.

The district is one of the biggest tobacco growing areas in Zimbabwe, with more than 20 000 registered tobacco farmers who use firewood for curing their crop.

However, the traditional leaders in the district now charge perpetrators a fine of either a goat or beast depending on the severity of the case.

In an interview recently, Chief Chanetsa (Mr Adam Katsvere) said his court has fined a number of farmers since January for cutting down indigenous trees for tobacco curing.

“A number of villagers have appeared before our courts after being apprehended by our village heads and other concerned villagers while indiscriminately cutting down trees,” he said.

“We have fined them goats and cautioned them that if they commit the same offence they will have to pay a beast for each tree.”

Chief Dandawa, from the same district, urged farmers to plant fast growing tree species like gum trees while constructing rocket barns which do not require a lot of firewood when curing tobacco.

“We are encouraging villagers to use the tree seedlings that they are provided by their tobacco companies. In my area I have started a project with Premium Tobacco Company where a hectare has been put aside for gum-tree planting. The gum trees will be given to the people once they reach the right maturity,” Chief Dandawa said.

“We also urge them to construct environmentally friendly barns like the rocket barn which uses less firewood.”

He said the traditional leaders hold regular meetings with farmers to promote the use of alternative heat sources for tobacco curing.

The traditional leaders are currently working with the Tobacco Research Board and Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board in spearheading construction of barns that use less firewood.

Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe provincial head for Mashonaland West Mr Lewis Radzire said they had lined up a number of programmes including working with farmers to fight deforestation.

He said the commission will embark on provincial awareness campaigns to encourage farmers to save the environment by replanting trees.


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