People tour Mabhunu's tobacco field
CHIREDZI – The Agricultural Marketing Authority (Ama) has challenged the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (Timb) to recognise the Lowveld as a tobacco-growing region as proven by Josias Mabhunu who has piloted a very successful project.
Speaking during a field day held last week in Triangle Pension Area Ward 28, Ama Southern Region manager, Simon Pande said Timb needed to work hand in glove with budding tobacco farmers in the Lowveld.
He said local farmers had proven their worth, and had shown great potential to produce much more if given the necessary support.
"As Ama, we do not specialise in the marketing of tobacco but Timb does. We will persuade them to recognise Chiredzi tobacco growers so that they too will be provided with the much-needed expertise and inputs," said Pande.
Pande also urged agricultural extension officers to invest their energies in the provision of expertise to new farmers especially during the curing stage.
"Extension officers, this is the time to show your presence by providing technical support to the farmer who has piloted this project in our region. The curing stage is the most important as it determines the quality of the leaf.
"Humidity and temperature in the curing house have to be measured; meaning there is need for a thermometer and hygrometer. Mabhunu's curing house only has a thermometer," said Pande.
Mabhunu, who is expecting more than 3 000 kg of tobacco from his 1.3 hectare plot, said he was emulating tobacco farmers in Mhondoro.
"I haven't acquired adequate knowledge in the production of tobacco. I just got a rough idea from the time I was buying maize from Mhondoro for resell elsewhere. So it's expensive to travel from Chiredzi to Mhondoro to get the knowledge," said Mabhunu.