At least four parliamentary committees have endorsed tobacco contract farming, a dramatic u-turn from their earlier stance as some leaf farmers complained that buyers ripped them off their hard earned money through dubious deductions.
Through contract farming, buyers give farm inputs, loans and tell the tobacco growers the volume of tobacco they need to grow and farmers are assured of an already market for their tobacco.
Joseph Chidanti Malunga, chairman of the joint four parliamentary committees of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Legal and Statutory Corporation reviewing the Tobacco Industry Bill presented a report on the issue in parliament on Tuesday .
Chidanti Malunga said the joint committee recommended that 80 per cent of the total tobacco grown and brought to the market should be under the contract whist 20 per cent should be non-contract.
“Looking at the trends worldwide, the contract is the way to go because farmers will realise a lot of money. This is why we have to make a law that is to benefit all the tobacco players,” he said.
Malunga also said each tobacco player will concentrate on the job allocated, saying a tobacco buyer should not be a tobacco grower and transporter.
Farmers have been complaining that whilst the contract method of growing tobacco gives them an already market, the buyers make dubious deductions after sales and also they do not know the prices of the tobacco on the market.
However, experience shows that tobacco grown on contract terms fetch higher prices than non-contractual tobacco at auction floors.
Malunga said the new law will mandate all tobacco farmers to register with the Tobacco Control Commission to avoid the grievances outlined by the growers.
The bill, which was tabled in June this year before it was referred to the joint committee, repeals the Tobacco Act and the Control of Tobacco Auction Floors Act, consolidating them into one law.
In their consultations, the committee met various stakeholders, including the regulator Tobacco Control Commission, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), AHL Group and tobacco growers in three districts.
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa has since deferred debate on the committee report to a later date after which the bill will be brought back to the floor.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :