THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has introduced a natural air curing system (Nacs) in line with the tobacco value chain transformation plan.
In a statement, the regulatory authority said the reason behind the introduction of the system was to increase barn capacity for farmers who have been losing marketable volumes of tobacco due to capacity limitations.
“All along, we have been producing flue-cured tobacco, but a farmer’s tobacco may ripen all at once and the existing curing facilities may not accommodate all the ripe tobacco,” TIMB said.
The initiative allows the farmer to reap the tobacco into Nacs, otherwise known as Chigaffas, instead of leaving it to rot in the fields.
“Once cold colouring is complete, the tobacco can either be moved into brick barns (if they are available) or moved onto racks that have been erected for natural curing/ sun curing,” TIMB said.
Nacs significantly reduces farmers’ post-harvest yield losses and ultimately improves farmer viability, profitability and sustainability.
TIMB said the introduction of the system was in line with the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, which had the farmer at the core of the transformation and sought to improve productivity and sustainability.
The board believes that by producing natural Virginia tobacco, which is a more sustainable product, using more natural systems, the local tobacco industry will generate a wider range of qualities for customers on the global market, creating demand and encouraging investment for the ultimate longevity of the Zimbabwean tobacco industry.
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The main objective of this initiative is to explore the potential for more sustainable tobacco production via the Nacs methodologies which use less fuel and also consumes few natural resources.
“The introduction of new systems and practices will also aid in addressing side marketing. Farmers’ cost of production will be reduced, increasing profitability, thereby reducing farmer incentive to side market,” the regulatory board added.
TIMB will be joined by Atlas Agri Limited in spearheading this initiative.
TIMB’s functions include controlling and regulating the growing, marketing and exportation of the golden leaf.