The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has introduced a Natural Air Curing System (NACS) to the Zimbabwe tobacco industry to prevent the farmer from losing marketable volumes of tobacco due to barn capacity limitations.
Previously, the farmers cured tobacco in barns but a farmer’s tobacco may ripen all at once and the existing curing facilities may not accommodate all the ripe tobacco.
In a statement, TIMB chairman Patrick Devenish said instead of letting it rot in the fields a farmer can use the system, also known as Chigaffa, and reap their tobacco.
“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.
Natural Air Curing Systems significantly reduce farmers’ post-harvest yield losses and ultimately improve farmer viability, profitability, and sustainability,” Devenish said.
He said the introduction of this Natural Virginia Tobacco product to the Zimbabwe tobacco industry is in line with the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, which has the farmer at the core of the transformation and seeks to improve productivity and sustainability.
“By producing Natural Virginia Tobacco, which is a more sustainable product, using more natural systems, we believe 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,” he said.
According to TIMB, the objective of this initiative is to explore the potential for more sustainable tobacco production via the NACS methodologies which use less fuel/ consume fewer 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.
Atlas Agri (Private) Limited will be joining TIMB to spearhead this new initiative.