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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Climate-smart tobacco varieties bear fruits

Story by Peter Chivhima

THE newly introduced climate-smart tobacco varieties are bearing fruit and yielding better crops in dry seasons.

In a bid to ensure tobacco growers and the entire nation continue to benefit from the golden leaf in the wake of the ravaging negative effects of climate change, researchers are working round the clock towards improving the genetic varieties.

The move resulted in the Kutsaga Research Board introducing climate-smart tobacco varieties in 2023.

A Tobacco Field Day held on Thursday at Kutsaga Research Station created an opportunity to assess the impact of smart climate tobacco varieties in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The newly introduced climate-smart tobacco varieties which include T78, T79, T80 and T81 are expected to accelerate the agriculture sector’s aspirations of boosting output.

“Climate-smart varieties were developed for production in non-tobacco grown areas and the bulk of these areas fall in what we call marginal areas. In Zimbabwe, we talk of areas such as Matabeleland North and lower Gweru, Masvingo. One of the reasons is that there were no varieties which were suitable in those areas.

“So, we introduced these varieties so that no one and no place will be left behind. These varieties are grown in any area and give a decent yield. They also give at least 2500 -3000 kgs per hectare in a very dry season,” Kutsaga Research Head of Crop Production Mr Francis Mukoyi.

“The newly introduced varieties are performing well, especially in marginalised areas. However, these varieties can do better in areas which are not marginal but in dry areas. We are committed to continue with research so that we add value to the golden leaf even in dry season.” Kutsaga Research head Liaison, Advisory and Special Projects, Dr Dzingai Rukuni.

Farmers who attended the event are convinced the introduction of the new varieties will transform the tobacco sector, and their livelihoods and leapfrog the country’s economy.

“Currently we are experiencing low yield because of the poor rainfall season so we are convinced that the tobacco short-season varieties are going to transform our lives. The other thing is that diseases such as nematodes are now a big challenge contributing to poor yield so we hope these new varieties will go a long way in improving our yields,” said a farmer.

“My life has changed a lot since I started to grow tobacco but I think short-season varieties are the way to go in the face of climate change,” said another.

In December last year, the government approved the release of 18 climate-resilient seed varieties as a counter measure to the effects of climate change.

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