By A Correspondent- Senior Agronomist Lazarus Gatawa has urged tobacco farmers to plan thoroughly and elevate their agricultural practices as mitigation measures to counter unpredictable rainfall seasons created by climate change occurrence.
Gatawa said Climate change is a consequence of rising average global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to produce energy along with other human activities like cutting down of trees and veld fires.
He stated various effects of Climate change.
“Some of the devastating impacts of climate change that directly affect tobacco farmers include extreme heat, mid season drought spells and incessant rainfall that may cause water logging in the fields.”
The impacts of unpredictable incessant rainfall such as that experienced during the 2021-2022 rain season affect the tobacco plant expected growth, yield and quality,” Gatawa said.
“Waterlogged fields will lead to severely constricted root growth respiration due to oxygen deficiency in the soil zone. Farmers should seek advice from Extension officers on how best they can open up contour ridges. Tobacco ridges should be put at 45⁰ angle in order to drain off excess water if rainfall is excessive and dam-ridges should be put along these ridges to hold water if rainfall is low. Farmers with fields that are prone to waterlogging should make big ridges that are more raised for the plant roots to be situated away from the ground level. Farmers should select North facing slopes as seedbed sites as these receive more solar radiation and seedbeds as such should be fenced off using thatch grass in order to regulate the inside temperature.”
“Tobacco farmers are also being advised to plan and do the following operations earlier; destruction of tobacco stalks as stipulated by the law, maintenance of farm implements, early ploughing, early liming, early seedbeds and early planting so that their crop will have a longer growing period to build leaf body before the incessant rains come. Early payment of farm workers and all their dues related to the current season will buttress the preparedness of the farmers for the next season.”
“If tobacco farmers follow these climate change proofing agricultural practices they will be able to attain a yield of 3 tonnes per hectare and a profitable average price of USD$3 per kg without major challenges.
Farmers without irrigation facilities should consult their nearest Field officers on the best earliest seedbed establishment and planting dates suitable for their respective areas,” he added