Malawi Government on Monday went flat out hitting at anti-tobacco campaign which is being champion by the United Nations World Health Organisation(WHO) and that will keep on supporting is tobacco industry, the mainstay of the economy, despite opposition from anti-smoking groups.
Minister of Agriculture and Water development Dr Allan Chiyembekeza speaking when he was opening high level Indaba on tobacco which Malawi is hosting , said Malawi would continue to support the tobacco industry, the country’s second largest employer after the government, until alternative cash crops were found.
The meeting is being hosted at Bingu International Conference Centre and has drawn diplomats, Heads of corporate affairs, representative of Tobacco buying companies such as Alliance One and Limbe Leaf. Others are Heads of Corporate affairs for Phillip Morris, Guillaume Popiol, and Vice President of Universal Leaf from Geniva Mr. Neil Marblorough.
Chiyembekeza, said tobacco plays vital role in the development countries like Malawi.
“Tobacco is our strategic crop which generates 60% of Malawi foreign earnings,” said Chiyembekeza.
Chiyembekeza conceded that African tobacco -producing countries are aware that tobacco may cause diseases to human health.
“We do not deny it,” Chiyembekeza said but pointed out that “tobacco is not alone in causing diseases.”
“Tobacco does not stand alone in this. Other habits derived from the consumption of agricultural products are dangerous : alcohol is addictive and leads to even higher social costs than tobacco consumption, sugar added to food leads to diabetes and obesity, butter leads to increased cholesterol,” said Chiyembekeza.
“We cannot accept the discrimination and we need to stand united and resist it,” said Chiyembekeza.
Chiyembekeza called upon countries to pull the resources together and help safeguard the crop.
President Peter Mutharika is also on record saying this year when he opened tobacco market that the country’s future will depend on tobacco.
“We are all aware that Malawi cannot stop growing tobacco overnight we will continue growing tobacco based on trade requirements until when there is no demand,” he said.
TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali said the organisation has licensed three new tobacco buyers, including Chinese firm Sino-Ma, which will also set up a cigarette processing factory in the country.
Malawi’s draft economic growth strategy proposes a diversified agricultural sector, where tobacco will be replaced by crops like cotton and cassava.
Greater emphasis on mining, tourism and manufacturing is also planned—although this has been met with scepticism from certain business representatives.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :