ZIMBABWE'S production of organic fertiliser has increased in line with new global market requirements for tobacco farmers to produce the crop in a "sustainable" way, agricultural experts have said. Organic fertilisers contain one or more kinds of organic matter constituting either animal or vegetable matter or a combination of the two.
Western activists are calling on purchasers to buy tobacco from countries that do not use harmful chemicals or cause deforestation.
However, information taken from the database of the US Department of Agriculture indicated that tobacco uses less agro-chemicals than other major crops such as strawberries, citrus, apples, potatoes or carrots. Stakeholders in the sector said this development was a political strategy to cripple Zimbabwe's economy, taking into consideration that tobacco is mostly grown by African countries.
They said agricultural economists found tobacco production in Zimbabwe was seven times more profitable than maize, twice as profitable as cotton and 60 times more profitable than sorghum.
Speaking at a field day to demonstrate benefits on growth, productivity and yield quality of organic fertilizer on tobacco crops, Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said the results had exceeded expectation.
The event was organised by Nico-Orgo, Zimbabwe's leading authority and pioneers in organic fertiliser manufacture and distribution.
Mr Zakariya said the fertiliser was ideal for Zimbabwe's climatic conditions which have been dominated by excessive rains in most regions resulting in leaching.
"The tobacco crop that we visited at all the four farms during the tour can easily yield above 4 000kg per hectare," said Mr Zakariya.
"The crop looked healthy and had ripened well and it was apparent that this is attributed to Nico-Orgo organic enriched fertilizers.
"Such innovations are welcome if we are going to plan for improved yields in both volume and quality."
Nico-Orgo commercial director Mr Sylvester Tsikisayi said the budding tobacco sector was nearly 98 percent indigenised with many women and youths benefiting from agricultural empowerment.
He said Nico-Orgo had devised counter measures to defy developed countries efforts to tear down the economies of African countries.
Mr Tsikisayi said organic enriched fertiliser had positive influence on soil biology and reduced nutrient leaching because of its ability to bind with nutrients in the soil.
"Addition of organic fertilizer in the soil provides several mechanisms for improved agronomic efficiency, particularly increased retention of water and soil nutrients and better synchronisation of nutrient supply and demand.
"It also accommodates stronger absorption of pollutants such as pesticides and heavy metals which reduces the movement of the pollutants into water supplies," he said.