Stalk destruction deadline extended: Essential for disease control

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development under the Department of Research and Specialist Services, sends out annual reminders to all tobacco producers in Zimbabwe to destroy their tobacco stalks before the mandated date of May 15 of each season. This is essential for disease control. The deadline has been extended to 10 June for the 2023/2024 season. This has been necessitated by the delayed rains received, leading to late crop establishment hence the failure to meet the stipulated date.

Tobacco farmers are urged to cooperate because viral diseases can easily become a pandemic since viruses can be transmitted across farms that are kilometers apart. Tobacco stalks are a potent reservoir for pathogens such as Potato virus Y (PVY) and bushy top virus. Therefore, stalks should be cleared from fields to break the life cycles of pests and pathogens as well as to protect subsequent crops from viral transmission from stalks to seedbeds or fields.

Officials from TIMB, AGRITEX and Plant Quarantine Services conduct routine inspections on growers’ fields to ensure adherence to the legislated dates and non–compliant growers are subject to a fine.
The Department of Research and Specialist Service notes that in this instance, it is therefore advisable that the inconvenienced grower seeks extension periods two days before the stipulated date from the Department of Quarantine Services, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to avoid a penalty.

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