President Peter Mutharika has re-iterated remarks that he will do all he can to support tobacco farmers and the tobacco industry in the country for the good of concerned stakeholders and that of the whole Malawi nation, expressing optimism that 2016 will be the year when farmers will earn decent incomes from their labour.
Mutharika expressed the sentiments at Kanengo in the capital Lilongwe Wednesday where he officially launched the 2016 Tobacco Marketing Season.
He said he was aware of the many challenges the players in the industry, especially “farmers”, were facing and assured that he would “iron them out.”
The President noted that tobacco was important in driving the country’s economy and as such it needed to be well supported.
“Tobacco is a very serious matter. It has been the life of our economy, our life. More than ever, our tobacco industry faces challenges we have never known before. They are challenges we must face and conquer together,” said Mutharika.
He warned some tobacco associations who are charging unjustified and exorbitant “levies and taxes” on farmers saying he would take them to task for their wrongdoing.
He asked the associations to be “fair” when plying their trade.
Taking to the buyers, Mutharika said much as there is always a call for fair prices every year, the buyers never walk the talk.
He made it clear that his government would make sure that farmers get what they deserve for their hard work.
Mutharika promised that his administration will create better regulation of the industry; provide affordable fertilizer for the farmers and protect farmers by investing in drought and climate change mitigation.
Board chairperson of Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), regulators of tobacco sale in Malawi, Inkosi ya Makosi M’belwa V said “a number of reformations were being made to bring about more glory to the tobacco industry.”
Tobacco, popularly known as the green gold in Malawi, is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner at about seventy per cent.
Despite worldwide anti-smoking campaigns, Malawi has vowed to keep on producing the cash crop.
The opening of tobacco marketing season brings a ray of hope that this will improve the ever dwindling economy which has pushed the cost of life drastically up in this poor nation.
TCC say they will ensure that there is no tobacco that slips through the borders to Zambia or Mozambique as has been the case years back during the season.
TCC chief Executive Officer Alfred Changaya said his organisation has teamed up with the police to ensure frequent border patrols to combat the vice.
“We will confisticate all tobacco being smuggled and that will remain the property of the government. We will also impound all vehicles involved in the smuggling,” said Changaya.
He said the Limbe Auction Floors open on April 18 and Mzuzu opens its tobacco market on April 20. Tobacco markets rake in billions of money through forex which helps grow the economy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :