Farmer's Voice

Planting eucalyptus to fight deforestation

The Sustainable Afforestation Association in Zimbabwe, formed in October 2013 to curb deforestation from leaf curing, said it planted 600 hectares of eucalyptus in its 1st year and 3,340 hectares in 2014-15, which is still short of the long- term target of 4,000-5,000 hectares per year. The association, which is funded by 15 merchants through a 1.5% voluntary levy on the value of their leaf purchases, has spent $3.7 million in two years. Its operations director Andy Mills said he is not disappointed with the level of progress. The association will expand the range of tree species planted as their growth performance is evaluated, he added. About 15% of deforestation in Zimbabwe occurs in the tobacco sector. The Forestry Commission estimates that 49,500 hectares of native forests are lost to tobacco production every year. Curing a kilogram of tobacco requires 9 kilograms of wood, according to Dr. Dahlia Garwe of the Tobacco Research Board (Herald - Harare 8/24)