Tobacco late start forces government to push deadline for destroying plant seedlings

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By Staff Reporter

Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has announced an extension to the deadline for destroying tobacco seedlings for the 2023/24 season.

While the original deadline for all tobacco growers was set for December 31, 2023, many rain-fed tobacco farmers are currently facing challenges due to the late start of the season.

In a press statement, Mister of Agriculture Anxious Masuka acknowledged the difficulties faced by rain-fed growers and, in accordance with Section 5(1) of the Plant Pests and Diseases (Tobacco) Regulations, 1979, announced a revised deadline for a specific category of seedlings.

“The last date of destroying all tobacco plants in seedbeds shall be 15 January 2024, in the case of plants of a type other than oriental.

“All tobacco growers are required to adhere to all other legislated dates to prevent the carryover of diseases and pests,” said Masuka.

This practice helps in protecting future tobacco crops and ensuring the overall health of the industry.

Masuka warned farmers against disobeying set dates saying the crime carries stiff penalties and a prison sentence.

“As growers are aware, the contravention of regulations requiring the destruction of tobacco plants by a specified date or prohibiting the planting of tobacco plants between specified dates, a grower will be subjected to, for a first offence.

“To a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars for each hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

“For a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars for each hectare or part thereof in respect of which the offence is committed or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” read the statement.

The Tobacco industry generates over a billion US dollars annually through exports to over 60 countries around the world.