By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT and other environmental stakeholders have always raised serious concern over how the traditional wood fired tobacco curing process using barns is causing massive deforestation.
In the wake of this, a thriving local tobacco agribusiness just outside Harare has invested in a coal fired heating system that totally eradicates the use of wood and in the process help in conserving millions of trees.
Tobacco production is a meticulous process which spans over an eighteen months period from seedlings production to marketing.
One important stage is curing, which involves hot gases heating the tobacco leaves in barns to remove chlorophyll in order to leave cured tobacco which is high in sugar and low in nicotine content.
With Zimbabwean farmers using wood for this process, millions of trees are lost yearly, posing a serious environmental danger.
In setting a remarkable example Shaun Saywood of Eldorado Farms, a commercial tobacco enterprise in Domboshava says they have installed a multi-million dollar system where coal heats the water circulating in a radiator which in turn heats the air to cure the tobacco.
Coal is fed into theses troughs and is fired and on top of the oven are pipes with circulating water which when heated goes through a radiator which subsequently heats the air. The hot air is properly regulated and goes into the tobacco stacks hence the curing process happens. There is no use of firewood in the process and this saves millions of trees hence our project is environmentally friendly, he said.
Where previously a total of fifty tobacco barns each requiring wood fire to cure the tobacco were needed to cure their tobacco, this system equally performs the task more efficiently in terms of cost and labour.
With Eldorado Farm anticipating to produce over one million kilogrammes of tobacco this year alone, the massive production target will be done in less environmentally destructive ways using a scientific process that will save tens of thousands of trees.
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