Malawi govt commends JTI on tobacco reform

Information and Civic Education Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa has commended one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, JTI for taking a lead role in promoting engagement of stakeholders involved Malawi’s tobacco reform process.

Nankhumwa was speaking in Lilongwe when he officially opened a two-day Media Capability Building workshop for journalists that report on the tobacco industry. The workshop is being facilitated by JTI.

 “JTI has demonstrated that it appreciates the role of media as one of the key stakeholders in the actualisation process of Integrated Production System. Through this workshop, JTI is also taking a lead in being proactive with engagement of key stakeholders not only within the tobacco sector itself in which they operate, but outside of it. This is a sign of commitment by JTI to the Malawi economy and I would like to commend this spirit,” said Nankhumwa, himself a former journalist.

Nankhumwa: This is a sign of commitment by JTI to the Malawi economy
Nankhumwa: This is a sign of commitment by JTI to the Malawi economy

The Minister said as IPS is a new policy, debate on its benefits must be encouraged as one way of building consensus towards the tobacco policy’s speedy implementation.

“As government, we are keen to preserve the socio-economic benefits that the country derives from tobacco, so while views on IPS might be divergent, we must encourage debate to shape the way forward as tobacco is the anchor crop for our economy,” he said.

JTI Managing Director Fries Vanneste said the Capability Building workshop aims to contribute to an effective working knowledge of Integrated Production System (IPS) amongst reporters and editors that write on the tobacco industry.

He said the workshop has been designed to equip media with the right knowledge and tools on the Regulatory, Legal and Macro-Economic Policy framework context under which the Contract Farming model operates.

He said the workshop will also provide guidance to the media on the operations of JTI’s Facilitated Farmers Scheme (FFS) as a sustainable Contract Farming tool that provides a strategic fit in the country’s IPS.

“Through this interaction, JTI and its independent media agencies will share qualitative and quantitative awareness of IPS in action as seen through the company’s facilitated model growers and their success stories disseminated through various media channels,” he said.

For his part, the National Coordinator of the Association of Business Journalists (ABJ), representing the interests of business and economic journalists that report on tobacco said; “This event could not have come at any better time. There is need for the current reforms in the tobacco industry, and the regulatory framework supporting IPS to be understood by the media in the right context.”

The workshop has brought together 20 journalists from private and public media and from all the three regions of the country. Media agency FD Communications Limited and a development communications firm Mlambe Consulting are coordinating the training.

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