Zimbabwe's Forestry Commission has initiated legislation to compel tobacco farmers to plant fast growing tree varieties for tobacco curing
The legal framework is being developed due to massive deforestation as a result of the tobacco curing process. The move is meant to compel tobacco farmers to set aside land to grow trees and to eventually minimise the indiscriminate cutting down of trees. A commission spokesperson said the legislation was at an advanced stage and will soon be going through parliament.
According to agriculturalists, tobacco contains naturally occurring nicotine which is highly lethal; one drop of pure nicotine can be fatal if consumed. Curing is meant to remove any harmful substances.
Curing tobacco has always been a process necessary to prepare the leaf for consumption. In Zimbabwe, farmers rely on traditional curing barns where they use firewood to cure and dry the tobacco while in other countries, like the US, prefabricated metal curing boxes are now used.