Zimbabwe disease alert

| February 15, 2018

Concerns have been raised in Zimbabwe about the resurgence of Potato Virus Y in tobacco, according to a story in The Herald.

PVY, a viral disease that is said to have been under control for some years, has apparently resurfaced, and tobacco growers are being blamed.

The government has urged tobacco growers to follow regulations on destroying stalks and crop residues to avoid the spread of pests and diseases.

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, made this call during a familiarization tour of the Kutsaga Research Station on Tuesday.

Shiri said some growers had been witnessed failing to destroy stalks and crop residues in a timely manner and others had been witnessed not destroying stalks completely. “Now, we end up with these challenges,” he said.

“We need to change the way we do things. We need to be responsible. We had grown a viable industry, which contributes immensely towards the economy of this country and in particular earning foreign currency. We seem to be gradually destroying the industry through the failure to comply with legislation of destroying stalks.

“I call upon farmers to be responsible. It is our responsibility, all of us, to look after the industry that has sustained us. It is there to sustain the economy of the country,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s Plant Pests and Diseases Act requires that tobacco farmers destroy tobacco stalks on or before May 15.

Tobacco Research Board general manager Dr. Dahlia Garwe also expressed concern over the disease, which she said had the potential significantly to affect tobacco production in Zimbabwe.

“We are extremely concerned about the incidence of the PVY,” Garwe said. “Our farmers have for a number of years ignored the legislation that was put in place to keep PVY on check. “Now we are starting to reap the ‘benefits’ of our sins. The fact that we have failed to observe the legislation has meant that we are now seeing an outbreak of a disease that has been under control.”

Garwe was quoted as saying that tobacco farmers were now growing crops of potato, tomato and pepper on the same land on which they grew tobacco. “The crops have the same pests and diseases, so if a tomato crop has been affected by PVY, that disease will also move into tobacco,” she added.


Category: Breaking News, Leaf, People, Regulation

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