About 432 tobacco farmers were arrested and prosecuted and fined in the last four months for mostly failing to destroy tobacco stalks by the stipulated May 26 deadline.
The highest fine was US$10 000, while others ranged between US$100 and US$1 000.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Online, Tobacco Research Board (TRB) public relations and communications officer Mr Tatenda Mugabe said:
For 2022 alone, from May, a total of 432 people have been convicted for violating the regulations.
Inspectors from Plant Quarantine Services Institute in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development are deployed in all tobacco-growing regions with a mandate to inspect compliance.
Of the 432 that were arrested, 425 growers were fined for not destroying tobacco stalks before the deadline of May 26.
Statutory Instrument (SI) 121 of 2019 stipulates that tobacco growers should adhere to all legislated dates to prevent and reduce the carryover of disease and pests.
The Plant Pests and Diseases Act [Chapter 19:08] states that stalks act as a host for diseases and pests like nematodes and spider mites hence destroying them starves the pests.
Violation of Statutory Instrument (SI) 121 of 2019 can attract a fine, conviction, or both.
Other Important legislative dates:
i). The earliest date for sowing seed is 1 June
ii). The earliest date for transplanting is 1 September
iii). The last day of destroying all seedbeds is 31 December