The Sunday Mail
AT LEAST 400 hectares of irrigated tobacco have been severely damaged countrywide after farmers used fake chemicals on their crop.
On average, one hectare produces at least four tonnes of tobacco if farmers use the recommended agronomic practices.
Liaison, pesticide approval and plant health services officers have since been deployed to assess the damage caused by the use of these chemicals.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Online, Tobacco Research Board (TRB) executive director for research and extension services, Dr Susan Dimbi, warned farmers from using unregistered agrochemicals.
“This comes as a record incidence of abnormally growing tobacco plants in the irrigated tobacco crops this October was detected,” she said.
“Teams on the ground established that growers had used chlorpyrifos, with rates that ranged from 750ml – 1500ml per hectare.”
Chlorpyrifos is a hazardous pesticide that has been banned for use, not only on tobacco but on other crops in many countries around the world.
Dr Dimbi, however, said it is puzzling that not all growers who used this product are affected.
“The symptoms on the affected crops are not typical chlorpyrifos phytotoxicity symptoms, but rather pointing to 2,4D-related herbicide damage.”
According to Mashonaland Central senior agronomist, Mr Lazarus Gatawa, phytotoxicity is an adverse effect on plant physiology and inhibition of growth that is caused by applied chemical substances like fertilisers, herbicides or insecticides.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Seed Co officials have since launched a blitz on counterfeit agricultural products flooding the market.
Indications are that fake agricultural inputs are being sold at illegal outlets and open spaces at prices that are lower than genuine products.