The Tobacco Research Board is an authoritative source of information, knowledge and technology for tobacco growers in particular but also other players in the farming sector.
The TRB is undertaking a number of activities in support of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development. TRB’s activities under the banner “Maximising Economic Value”, are contributing directly to the Ministry’s quest towards attainment of Vision 2030.
a) Tobacco Variety Development
A number of new cultivars with superior, high-quality and multi-disease resistant were developed at Kutsaga with the objective of maximizing grower returns, while optimizing trade requirements.
Recently released varieties include K RK72; K RK73; K RK74; K RK75 & K RK76
The current thrust is to incorporate resistance to the aphid-transmitted viral diseases (PVY and bushy top) the incidence of which has been exacerbated by non-adherence to the legislative control measures by tobacco growers and also to improve drought tolerance in the face of climate change. Most of the varieties developed at Kutsaga are widely grown in the Southern African Region.
b) Tobacco Research Board: Towards Greener Tobacco Curing Practices
One of the major objectives of the TRB program is to ensure that the Zimbabwean tobacco crop is produced in a sustainable and responsible manner and thus work is underway to curb deforestation associated with tobacco production. A number of barn designs were evaluated with the aim of either reducing wood fuel consumption or using an alternative fuel source. One of the barns evaluated and recommended for use is the ‘Twin Turbo Barn’ that apart from improving quality of tobacco cures, will go a long way in reducing deforestation in the country. It can efficiently burn coal without the use of an electrical fan thus ensuring that even small holder growers can comfortably use coal without electricity for their curing processes.
Twin-Turbo Barn for curing efficiency
c) Information, Knowledge and Technology Dissemination
In line with the ministry’s objective of transforming small holder farmers into entrepreneurs, the TRB has restructured and remodelled its grower training modules to embrace and consolidate the ministry’s thrust of achieving Vision 2030. This entails training growers on all business aspects, that is, proper business planning and appreciation of the market before venturing into any project. Currently, the TRB is participating in the on-going Youth Empowerment Programs being run across the country by the Ministry. These are meant to empower youth in agriculture and they bring together policy makers, suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders under the same platform.
Training session in progress
1. Tobacco Seed
The TRB produces and markets tobacco seed in Zimbabwe and beyond and ensures there is plenty of stock of all popular varieties at all times so as not to disappoint any flue cured or burley tobacco grower.
2. Quality Seed Potato
The Tobacco Research Board, under the auspices of Zimbabwe Potato Micro-Propagation Association (ZPMA), is a designated certifying seed potato agent mandated to produce and market seed potato. A state-of-the-art laboratory and purpose-built green- house hardening facilities are in place for the commercial production of clean disease-free potato plantlets using tissue culture (TC) technology.
3. Horticultural Plantlets
The TRB is also producing sweet potato seed for the Presidential Rural Horticultural Scheme among other material such as bananas, blueberries, pineapples and vegetable seedlings.
4. Seedbed Inputs
The TRB’s commercial hub is involved in the provision of seedbed inputs such as float trays, Gromix soilless media and basal fertilizer for the production of both tobacco and horticultural seedlings.
5. Analytical and GMO Screening Services
TRB also has state-of-the-art equipment for the analysis of soil, water, and pesticide residues in different matrices as well as for screening different agricultural products for genetically modified organisms (GMO).