LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)– The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) on Wednesday, urged tobacco farmers in the country to incorporate other cash crops for sustainability of their income, amid the green gold’s daunting marketing.
The call comes following the World Health Organization (WHO)’s anti-tobacco campaign which is threatening the crop’s marketing power in most developing nations, including Malawi.
The WHO is using the Framework Convention on Tobacco (WHO FCTC), the world’s most powerful tool to tackle tobacco’s negative impact on development.
The framework particularly advocates for increasing tobacco taxes; and the high prices are proven an effective ways to reduce demand for tobacco by reducing its affordability.
The WHO advances have not gone down well with five SADC tobacco growing (T5) countries that include Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi since their economies depend on the crop.
In an interface meeting with Media Network on Tobacco (MTN) in the capital Lilongwe, the TCC Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Luka, said this was the time for tobacco farmers to diversify into other cash crops to counter the challenges the crop is facing.
Luka said due the WHO massive anti-tobacco campaign through FCTC countries like Malawi, its farmers must take extra measures with agricultural alternatives.
He was however, quick to say that tobacco remains Malawi’s high income-earner that in years to come, the crop will be grown despite the marketing challenges it is facing.
Luka added that the Commission was happy for the Malawi Government to enter into T5 so that the fight be within until their needs are met.
“Although tobacco remains our cash crop, farmers must learn to grow other cash crops including soya beans, groundnuts and rice; so that any burden that comes along, they must stand economically fit.
“As we are into the new marketing season, farmers must start now preparing for the next growing season and consider what they are going to venture into. Let’s be united to safe guard the green gold, with other cash crops for the country’s economic growth,” urges Luka.
In his remark, MTN President Alfred Chauwa, lauded TCC for giving the media a platform to share critical issues affecting the industry.
Chauwa assured the Commission that the network will carry the correct information to the public to make right decision on crops diversification.
This year’s tobacco marketing season started on a very good note with the average price for the past six weeks, hovering at 1.8 US$ per kilogram.
The 2017 marketing season expects 124,537,000.00 kgs of tobacco with a deficit of 28,163,000 against the buyers demand of 152, 700,000.00.