The Zambezi Society has enlisted the services of the TIMB (Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board) to help tackle the alarming scale of deforestation and habitat loss that has recently been occurring in community agricultural areas adjacent to the Zambezi Valley’s protected areas. (See our previous stories: Tackling the De-forestation caused by Tobacco Farming (August 2018) and Community Work in areas adjacent to the Zambezi Valley (Dec 2018).

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The two organisations signed an MOU in May 2019 to tackle this problem.

The idea is to slow down the rate of deforestation and habitat loss - starting in Ward 8 of Hurungwe District, where tobacco-is grown as an increasingly popular cash crop.  The TIMB has agreed to encourage its members (Tobacco Merchants working with Small Scale Farmers), to use fuel efficient Rocket Barns in curing their tobacco.

With assistance from Tobacco Research Board the two parties have identified a Twin Turbo Barn (pictured above) as the best version to curb deforestation in Zimbabwe. 

This latest version of the Rocket Barn was launched by the Minister of Agriculture on the 20th of June 2019 and it allows for:

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1.       Combustion of coal without the need for an electrical or solar fan

2.       Use of coal or LPG/LNG gas or wood or biomass

3.       High energy efficiency through channelling waste exhaust gases from barn 1 to barn 2 for the colouring state

4.       0.85 kg coal/ 1 – 1.2 kg wood per kg cured tobacco

5.       Is suitable for other drying processes such as fruit/biltong/timber/paprika drying.

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However, the extremely high cost of the heat exchange alone (nearly US$3 000 per unit) is beyond the reach of most Small Scale Tobacco Farmers.  The Zambezi Society and TIMB will continue to engage with the Tobacco Research Board (marketing partner) and Mamsen Engineering (the patent holders) with a view to arranging more long term funding at more affordable prices for our target market.

In the meantime, The Zambezi Society has purchased 10 heat exchange units for installation by TIMB technical staff in August 2019.  TIMB as the technical partner will carry out the work.  TIMB will also train two members of the community per village to carry on with the construction work.  Negotiations are underway with TIMB to convince Tobacco Merchants operating in Ward 8 to fund 10 rocket barn conversions each under this project.

The Zambezi Society’s activities for this project are co-ordinated through the African Wildlife Foundation and funded under the European Union’s Lower Zambezi (EU LoZA) project "Partnership for improved anti-poaching and compatible land use in community lands of the LowerZambezi-Mana Pools Transboundary Conservation Area"

If you know of any organisation or individual who can assist with this important pilot exercise please put them in touch with us.

Zambezi Society