The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement has urged tobacco growers to destroy stalks as failure to comply will attract a fine of $500 per hectare.
Non-compliance by farmers in removing stalks has resulted in the spread of diseases, thereby threatening the lucrative tobacco industry.
Plant Quarantine and Plant Protection Services Institute entomologist, Mr Shingirayi Nyamutukwa said their teams were moving around all tobacco growing areas to enforce the regulation.
“A Statutory Instrument 711 of 1979 was put in place to curb the spread of tobacco pests by introducing tobacco-free periods every year to break the pests’ life cycle,” he said.
“According to the SI, all tobacco stalks in the field should be destroyed before 15th May of every year. This means rendering the tobacco plants incapable of growth.
“All tobacco seeds may not be sown before 1 June every year and all tobacco seedlings may not be planted out in the field before the September 1 every year.”
Mr Nyamutukwa said all tobacco curing and handling premises at the farm should be cleaned and be free of tobacco by the October 31 every year, while all tobacco plants in the seedbeds must be destroyed before the first January every year.
“We will be moving around enforcing these regulations in all tobacco growing provinces namely Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo targeting 104 361,45 hectares planted in the current season,” he said.