Chakwera wants Malawi weaned from Tobacco

President Lazarus Chakwera says the country needs to transition from a tobacco based economy and has tasked the Ministry of Agriculture to roll out consultations with relevant stakeholders aimed at identifying a viable crop that can substitute tobacco.

Speaking on Tuesday when he officially opened the 2021 Tobacco Marketing Season at Lilongwe Auction Floors, Chakwera said it was high time the country explored other crops like industrial hemp to replace tobacco, the country’s main strategic crop which rakes in about 60 percent foreign currency earnings.

He said the future for the tobacco industry looks b

leak because of international anti-smoking lobbies which are leading to a decline in tobacco trade.

He described the declining tobacco industry as a harsh reality that farmers and all other industry players needed to accept and look for alternatives.

“Tobacco use around the world is declining sharply. And by all indication, declining irreversibly. The knock on effect of this as a country is that every year, the backbone of our economy grows weaker.

“Additionally, although much of our crop is for exports, the industry relies heavily on imports that results in small margins of profit for us as a country compared to other commercial crops,” he said.

He said there was need for an exit strategy that would transition the country’s farmers from tobacco to other crops that are more sustainable and more profitable.

“I am, therefore, calling on the Ministry of Agriculture to begin consultations with all stakeholders to come up with a timeframe within which Malawi’s economy will be completely weaned of tobacco.

“We need to prepare our farmers for a more prosperous future built on other crops that are more profitable and sustainable,” he said.

Chakwera also warned various players in the tobacco industry against exploiting farmers.
He noted that tobacco farmers are living miserably yet they are key players in the tobacco production chain.

“There is gross imbalance in the bargaining power between tobacco farmers and other industry players. Farmers do not have enough of a say to what happens to their produce.

“It must be remembered that the farmer is responsible for production and in any industry that is healthy, producers have a lot of bargaining power but that is not the case for Malawi’s tobacco farmers,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, noted that prices tobacco buyers were offering on the opening day were encouraging.

He, however, asked the buyers to maintain the prices up to the end of the marketing season to ensure that farmers get better returns from their toiling.

A survey of the bales showed that good quality tobacco was fetching up to US$2.30 per kilogram, unlike last year’s prices which averaged US$1.54 per kilogram.

President for Tama Farmers Trust, Abiel Kalima Banda, expressed optimism that prices will be good throughout the selling season pointing out that tobacco volumes are low this year as compared to demand.

According to Ministry of Agriculture crop estimates, the country has produced 122 million kilograms of the green gold this year, against a buyer’s demand of 132 million kilograms.-Mana

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[…] yet, President Lazarus Chakwera says farmers need to turn to crops other than […]

Dausee
Dausee
18 days ago

If the president was wise akanafunsa ku ministry ko why they haven’t identified a crop so profitable that can replace tobacco. The simple answer is kulibe.

If he was intelligent he was supposed to talk about manufacturing not looking for another useless crop.

Erik P
Erik P
18 days ago

Finally! Our whole economy has been resting on a collapsing market. Medicinal marijuana is a much better alternative and there are plenty more things Malawi could do if we just roll up our sleeves and get down to it rather than sit crying that we don’t get enough aid.

Last edited 18 days ago by Erik P
Ulemu Banda
Ulemu Banda
19 days ago

Good move and we need to do this ASAP. Additionally, maybe we should be looking at other ways of growing our economy, for example, explore AI technology, medicine, and tourism. There’s an ever-growing space for developing countries to uplift themselves and use the resources we already have through our young men and women who are graduating from colleges across the country. Let’s provide incentives to the youth to come up with ideas for new ventures and I am sure that we have great minds among us Malawians.

Fukushima
Fukushima
19 days ago

These statements are contradicting each other. If tobacco is not fetching a viable market, why should this year’s production fall short of the expected amount? Did the president together with his office carryout a research in order to determine the tone, purpose and objective of his speech and the programme he undertook? Who said tobacco consumption is low? If anything it’s necessity and demand is climbing. You don’t bring up a suggestion without an alternative. As a leader, he should have said that with a substitution to tobacco in mind. Rather instead of jumping up onto the podium, he should… Read more »

Anzelu ndi Anzelu
Anzelu ndi Anzelu
19 days ago

I beg to differ withvyou bwana because you are looking at tobacco from a Pastor’s point of view. Tobacco has many uses other than smoking. Instead of looking at everything from a sin-sinner perspective, look at how we can do value-addition on the tobaco. There are countless other uses of tobacco. Consider also that if we are failing to meet the demand then it means we should not be looking for alternatives but growing more tobacco.

Good riddance
19 days ago

He’s talking about a dying market, inu mukukamba zosuta. Even if tobacco has other uses, if the main use is dying out, the tobacco market will shrink basi. That’s why the foreign buyers now talk nonsense when negotiating the prices because they know that you’re desperate to sell this dying leaf. You sound like those people who cling to old technology jobs while the world is changing around them and they end up being stuck jobless and clueless when time finally can’t wait for them any longer to adjust.

Ulemu Banda
Ulemu Banda
19 days ago

Countless other uses of tobacco? Are they profitable? Name them and give examples of where that is scaled to support an economy?

Erik P
Erik P
18 days ago

What are the other uses are there? I not aware of any.

Dausee
Dausee
18 days ago

Mulibe nzeru akulu. Tobacco has no other profitable use apart from manufacturing of cigarettes for kusuta.

Kalichero
19 days ago

Diversification is indeed the way to go Mr President. This must be done with a matter of urgency.

Crooked
Crooked
19 days ago

You don’t go to tobacco auction floors and announce you are quiting tobacco production because it can lead to poor prices from buyers. It’s good policy speech for any other agricultural event except tobacco season opening.

Kalichero
17 days ago
Reply to  Crooked

Chilungamo chimawawa.

Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
19 days ago

My worry is that the tobacco industry has helped a lot as a source income generation for decades and the other crops have failed us because of lack of demand and at times even marketing strategy.Will the alternative crops offer employment to as many people as the tobacco industry is currently doing?.Government must do it home work otherwise it is a tough task’ I do remember Dr Banda encouraged farmers to grow ground nuts and it was a success but the nuts ended up rotting at Liwonde Admarc because there were no markets out side Malawi.

National CEO
National CEO
19 days ago

We need value addition. just imagine if we can have factories to make soya, sunflower and groundnut oil? These crops can be promoted for cash crop, and the government reducing tax in these industries resulting in cheap cooking oil which can be exported.

Moya
Moya
19 days ago

Tobacco is on high demand. It’s those middle men ( companies)giving a picture that tobacco demand is slowing down so that they can purchase at low prices. Whilst smokers in the west and East even just within Africa their numbers are on the increase. Let’s cut out the middle men. Let’s supply direct. Ofcourse if we can diversify the better for our earnings as a country. Free advice; Let’s not leave our main cash crops in the hands of foreigners to process or export (Tobacco, Tea )

Erik P
Erik P
18 days ago
Reply to  Moya

Tobacco use is decreasing (see recent WHO report). Not sure where you got your data from. Also, the tobacco Malawi produces (Burley) has high tar levels and WHO has several times suggested making it illegal. This would collapse the whole Malawi economy if governments decided to do this. We’re currently on the edge of a very high precipice and we need other exports.

Moya
Moya
17 days ago
Reply to  Erik P

You still believe in WHO? They didn’t even see COVID coming. They are sleeping on their job. Wake up these are western institution set up to deceive Africa

Dausee
Dausee
18 days ago
Reply to  Moya

If you don’t know its better yo shut up! Which middle man will you cut out? Mhuh

Moya
Moya
17 days ago
Reply to  Dausee

All buyers here in malawi are middle men they are not the ones manufacturing cigarettes. Wake up

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