JTI targets 17 000 needy Malawians in relief efforts

Oone of Malawi’s tobacco buyers,  JTI, on Wednesday, said it will provide relief food stuffs to over 17 000 people affected by hunger in the next two to three months.

Here you are! Vanneste presenting a bag to a beneficiary while Chiyembekeza looks on

Here you are! Vanneste presenting a bag to a beneficiary while Chiyembekeza looks on

Agriculture Minister and Vanneste in cap presenting a bag of maize to a beneficiary.

Agriculture Minister and Vanneste in cap presenting a bag of maize to a beneficiary.

JTI Malawi Managing Director Fries Vanneste said when he launched the programme at Liwinga Primary School in TA Kalolo’s area in Lilongwe his company decided to reach out to needy families following reports that millions of Malawians were in need of food aid due to the drought that affected the country last year.

“JTI is out in the field every day with its growers. We have seen first-hand the severity of the situation and know that almost 3 500 households in the communities where we buy our tobacco from, across the country, are facing food shortages as a result of this year’s widespread drought,” said Vanneste.

According to Vanneste, the drought relief programme will cost the tobacco buyer about $300 000 over the next three months.

He said JTI contracted growers as well as the community in 11 districts where JTI sources its tobacco from will receive 50kgs of maize, 10kgs pulses and two litres of vegetables oil every month.

The relief items will be provided through local aid agencies like Red Cross.

“A long-term partnership is critical to our success in both good times and bad times,” said Vanneste.

“As partners we genuinely care about you and your families and that’s why we have set up this scheme.”

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza hailed JTI for the relief efforts which he said will benefit not only JTI contracted tobacco growers but also communities as a whole.

“I am reliably informed that for every single grower receiving this food aid, JTI is providing the same package to three other members of the community who are not even tobacco growers. This is impressive and attests to the fact that this company has the welfare of all Malawians at heart,” said Chiyembekeza.

In 2015, JTI also responded to the devastating floods experienced nationwide by joining forces with a disaster relief charity to supply emergency provisions, tents and food to people affected all across the country.

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