Zimbabwe seeks to switch to gas for tobacco curing

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HARARE, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is seeking to move away from using firewood and switch to gas to cure tobacco in a bid to curb deforestation, the country's tobacco industry regulator said Thursday.

In a statement, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said it is seeking gas technology companies to partner with it in establishing a centralized gas curing facility for tobacco.

According to the TIMB, of the 262,000 hectares lost to deforestation in the country every year, 15 to 20 percent of this is attributable to tobacco growing, particularly curing.

The TIMB said the centralized gas facility should allow for multiple farmers to cure their tobacco at the same time.

The partner is required to develop a pilot project which can be replicated in other tobacco-growing areas, the TIMB said.

TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo told the state news agency that the regulator wants to promote sustainable tobacco production by finding alternatives for curing the crop.

"This is one of the sustainable curing initiatives which we are considering as a Board. Sustainable tobacco production is the efficient production of quality tobacco, under conditions that limit the negative impact on the environment. This also entails the best agricultural practices that improve the socio-economic conditions of tobacco growers and communities in tobacco-producing areas," Moyo said.

Tobacco growing areas have been exposed to serious deforestation over the years as the ballooning number of tobacco farmers resort to indiscriminate cutting down of trees to cure the golden leaf.

Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe's major foreign currency earners.

Last year, the country sold 186.6 million kg of tobacco leaf valued at 515.9 million U.S. dollars, up 16.8 percent in volume and 31 percent in value over sales in 2020. Enditem

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