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Trees felled to feed tobacco production

| December 17, 2013

Tobacco remains a very important revenue earner for Zimbabwe, but the crop is an environmental menace, according to a story by Jeffrey Gogo for the Zimbabwe Herald.

The tobacco production process has involved taking 7.5 million trees from national forests each year in recent years.

That’s 15 per cent of the total and, Gogo says, a monumental environmental catastrophe by any measure since Zimbabwe plants only 2.5 million trees each year under the management of the Forestry Commission.

The costs of replacing the 7.5 million trees used by the tobacco industry each year is said to top US$22.5 million, excluding items such as transport and labor, if those trees are indigenous.

The magnet of the foreign currency that tobacco growers can earn encouraged 28,000 new-to-tobacco farmers to plant the crop in 2013, according to latest data from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

Tobacco’s allure, wrote Gogo, had been pulling farmers even from previously unsuitable non-tobacco growing regions such as Matabeleland.

Category: Breaking News

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