Tobacco farmers celebrate International Tobacco Growers Day

Tobacco growers in Malawi on Thursday joined the rest of their fellows across the globe in celebrating this year’s International Tobacco Growers’ Day, which falls on October 28 annually.

The commemoration has been promoted by the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) since 2012.

Globally, the commemoration this year focuses on ending child labour in tobacco production.

In Malawi, stakeholders such as TAMA Farmers’ Trust, the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and a local ITGA have lined up a number of activities to emphasize their commitment towards ending child labour by 2025.

Barron and other players in the tobacco sector inspect a library, which Mbabvi Estates Limited stocked at Mbabvi Full Primary School in Lilongwe–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

ITGA president Abiel Masache Kalima Banda said although Malawi has made significant strides in tackling the problem, the players are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the country achieves 100 percent child labour free in the sector.

“We know that these days, the child labour issue is a big problem. Some two years ago, America banned our tobacco because of concerns of child labour. So, we don’t want tobacco estates or individual producers to employ children anymore,” said Banda.

ITGA president Abiel Kalima Banda (second from right) donating notebooks to Mbabvi Full Primary School–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Area Manager of Mbabvi Estates Limited, David Barron, said despite facing negative publicity, tobacco continues to contribute enormously to other sectors of the economic and education for children.

On its part, TAMA Farmers Trust has gathered together leaders from all the cooperatives across the country to discuss and identify lasting solutions to child labour in the tobacco industry.

Chairperson of Chifundo Cooperative in Ntchisi, Olipa Moses, said most farmers have now understood the need not to engage children in tobacco production.

Moses said tobacco production negatively affects health and education of the children; hence, the growers are taking all the necessary steps to eliminate it so that the rights of children are safeguarded and respected.

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