Tobacco Commission of Malawi heightens crop diversification exercise

The Tobacco commission (TC) had gone full throttle in urging farmers to do away with tobacco by diversifying to other crops such as Soya following anti-tobacco smoking lobbies across the world.

The road to Chitukula, Serious Chimpanje and his 20kg tobacco bundle. Photo: Greg Mills

Among others, the Commission is encouraging farmers to kickstart the diversification process in order to withstand the shocks should a complete ban on tobacco smoking be effected.

On Friday, the Commission took a team of reporters to appreciate the exercise in Mitundu in the outskirts of the capital Lilongwe.

TC’s Hellings Nasoni said the trip to Mitundu was imperative ad it would help the media understand how the diversification drive is going on.

Nason reminded the media that Malawi has new tobacco laws in place which encourage diversification in order to boost food security.

“We are encouraging those who have not started the drive to start planning now and start benefitting,” said Nasoni.

One of the beneficiaries of the project, Kilnos Chayela, said since he embraced diversification he has managed to buy two vehicles and additional land following the combined proceeds from soya beans, tobacco, groundnuts, and maize.

At the beginning of the month, the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI), in conjunction with Palladium, co-hosted the first annual Agricultural Transformation Summit in Lilongwe as part of its commitment to support the diversification efforts of tobacco-dependent countries.

The two-day summit which took place on the 4th and 5th of December featured a series of discussions about how the agriculture sector in Malawi can strengthen alternative value chains and the overall ecosystem.

Attendees and participants at the summit agreed and debated that the global demand for tobacco is indeed decreasing,and resolved to support efforts to diversify economies and lessen the reliance of smallholder farmers on tobacco.

The summit noted that the situation is true particularly in Malawi where tobacco accounts for over 60 percent of the country’s total annual earnings and 13 percent of the economy as measured by the gross domestic product.

To ensure Malawi’s economy can thrive despite a worldwide decline in tobacco demand and production, the ATI is working with smallholder tobacco farmers to facilitate the development of complementary structured value chains to make the agriculture sector globally competitive.

One of the ATI’s first actions was to issue a request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) to operate and manage a new Center for Agricultural Transformation in Malawi.

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