Opposition back benchers on Tuesday shot down a tobacco industry bill which they claimed was sponsored by the tobacco buyers, saying this was why it favoured them than the farmers who toil the soil.
This was after Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha had presented the bill for debate and probably passing into law.
But spokesperson for the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on matters of agriculture Everson Makowa Mwale said the bill seeks to make a poor farmer much poorer despite his sweat and make tobacco buyers more richer than ever before.
“The views of the farmer have been left out,” he said.
He added: “We want the Bill to offer a win-win situation for growers and buyers.”
Mwanamvekha promptly agreed that debate on the bill be suspended to allow for more input but asked the parliamentarians to move with speed arguing the bill is over due.
Among others, the bill seeks to change the name of the Tobacco Control Commission, tobacco regulators to National Tobacco Commission.
Mwanamveka assured that the new law is set to revitalize the tobacco industry and better protect farmers.
The bill has since been referred to the parliamentary committees of Legal, Agriculture and Industry and Trade among others for further scrutiny for re-tabling before the House rises this Friday.
President Peter Mutharika, in his opening of the tobacco market this year, said the tobacco law would bring sanity in the tobacco industry and claimed it favoured an ordinary farmer.
Malawi is the most tobacco-dependent country in the world.
A 2016 study found that Malawian tobacco farmers make an average profit of US$79 per acre, substantially less than the average in the agricultural sector (US$351). It concludes “tobacco farmers are not earning enough to support a sustainable livelihood.”
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