Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Tobacco board to plant 6 million trees

Tobacco board to plant 6 million trees

Zimbabwe commemorates National Tree Planting on the first Saturday of December each year. Trees have enormous effect in neutralising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and thus minimising the risk of dangerous climate change

Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
THE Tobacco Research Board plans to plant six million fast growing Eucalyptus species next year, as the board adopts new technologies for the development of seedlings.

The board expects to have planted 3,5 million trees by the end of this year in an effort to arrest the deforestation associated with tobacco curing.

“We are cognisant of the fact that our activities are having a serious effect on the issues of deforestation,” said TRB general manager Dr Dahlia Garwe in an interview.

“So what we as a board have done is to try and address the short and medium term by encouraging firstly the production of trees. We are looking at trees that would give us a yield within a short period.”

The project started with only about 200 000 seedlings per year but so far this year more than 1,6 million seedlings have been dispatched.

To push up the tree seedling production, TRB has modified the float tray technology popularly used for tobacco seedling to produce more trees.

“We have now taken our technology known as float tray technology which we have been using for tobacco seedling and we found that that is the most efficient way of producing gum seedlings. This has made us able to up our quantities of available seedlings,” said Dr Garwe.

“We have now dispatched 1 630 000 seedlings and we intend to have dispatched 3,5 million seedlings by the end of the year.

“For the next season we intend to have at least six million trees available for dispatch,” she said.

The board is working closely with the Sustainable Afforestation Association in the seedling project.

SAA is a local Association initiated by the tobacco merchants in Zimbabwe with the support of Tobacco Industry And Marketing Board. The association is responding to the growing need to have a green economy that adheres to the country’s statutory instruments on sound environmental and natural resource management.

The TRB nursery currently produces fast growing Eucalyptus species — Gum Trees — for the establishment of wood-lots. The species include E. grandis, E. camaldulensis, E. cloeziana and E. tereticornis.

This allows growers to select a species that specifically suits their location. The TRB uses the Float Tray System to produce seedlings to ensure that the seedlings are healthy, disease free and are capable of surviving under harsh environmental conditions.

TRB is currently running trial runs for the production of indigenous trees, but is, however, worried about the slow growth rate of the home-grown trees.

“We are also planning to start the production of indigenous tree seedlings such as the Msasa (Brachystegia speciformis), Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica) and several Acacia species. Procurement of seed for this project is under way,” said Dr Garwe.

The mandate of the TRB is to support farmers in all aspects of tobacco production. This includes not only availing growers high yielding, disease tolerant varieties but also delivering information on efficient curing facilities to reduce curing fuel requirements and to support social responsibility initiatives.

The TRB has exclusive rights to flue-cured research in Zimbabwe. All varieties of tobacco sold in Zimbabwe must be those recommended by the TRB.


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