TIMB introduces Natural Air Curing Systems

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By Alois Vinga

THE Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has introduced a Natural Air Curing System (NACS) which will go a long way in preventing farmers from losing marketable volumes of tobacco due to barn capacity limitations. 

Prior to this, local farmers have been producing flue-cured tobacco but the crop may all ripen at once and existing curing facilities failing to accommodate it. 

NACS is a drying technique which forces ambient air through the golden leaf to attain acceptable moisture content. The energy contained within the ambient air is used for reducing the moisture in the tobacco.

Once cold colouring is complete, the tobacco can either be moved into brick barns (if they are available) or moved onto racks that have been erected for natural curing/ sun curing.

“This significantly reduces farmers’ post-harvest yield losses and ultimately improves farmer viability, profitability and sustainability.

“The introduction of this Natural Virginia Tobacco product to the Zimbabwe tobacco industry is in line with the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, which has the farmer at the core of the transformation and seeks to improve productivity and sustainability,” said TIMB.

The regulator believes that the local tobacco industry will generate a wider range of qualities for customers on the global market, creating demand and encouraging investment for the ultimate longevity of the Zimbabwean tobacco industry.

The objective of this initiative is to explore the potential for more sustainable tobacco production via the NACS methodologies which use less fuel/ consume fewer natural resources.

“The introduction of new systems and practices will also aid in addressing side marketing.  Farmers’ cost of production will be reduced, increasing profitability, thereby reducing farmer incentive to side market.

“Atlas Agri (Private) Limited will be joining TIMB to spearhead this new initiative,” added TIMB.