Tobacco growers schooled on proper channels of addressing concerns

Tobacco growers in the country have been advised to follow right procedures in the manner they address their concerns as doing the opposite does not benefit them.

Tobacco regulator boss Kaisi at Chinkhoma market

The regulator, Tobacco Commission (TC) chief executive officer, Kayisi Sadala, has said amid reports that some “dismayed” tobacco growers want to challenge the new Tobacco Industry Act.

According to the new act section 52 Subsection 1, for grower associations to qualify one of the conditions is to mobilize at least 5000 registered growers. With this, only five grower associations have qualified for this 2020 marketing season after they qualified for the licensing requirements.

Sadala said, presently, there are some tobacco intermediary buyers (vendors) who have been meeting in Mponela and Dowa Boma, planning to challenge the Tobacco Industry Act which seeks to protect farmers from being exploited.

The vendors were mobilizing unsuspecting farmers to protest against and frustrate the implementation of the new Act.

Further, it has been revealed that some farmer representatives are on record to have issued threats towards TC top management via social media and other platforms, as one way of scaring and frustrating the regulating body from applying the law.

However, Sadala was quick to point out that the consultation process for the new Act started way back in 2005 and that various stakeholders including farmer representatives were involved in the formulation process of the legislation.

“We are actually surprised that some are saying the new Act took the growers by surprise,” said Sadala.

Sadala stressed that Sections 67 and 78 of the Act prohibit the illegal vendors from buying buying from farmers and penalizes anyone found buying tobacco at unlicensed premises.

“Contravening the provisions of this Act, attracts corresponding penalties,” he said.

Sadala has since assured farmers not to panic saying the Commission will support every grower accordingly by making sure they sell their leaf whether they are under contract arrangement or not.

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