Cigarettes manufacturer shares tobacco farmers’ plight


One of the country’s main tobacco buyers and cigarette manufacturer, Nyasa Manufacturing Company, has admitted that most of the buyers give farmers a raw deal for their labour.

Chairperson for the company, Konrad Buckle, said in Times Exclusive that regardless of the huge investment that farmers make, they are not paid fairly at the market if compared to what happens in neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia where he said tobacco fetches higher prices on the market.

He attributed the problem partly to monopolisation of the sector and called on the government to toughen up and balance interests of the farmers and those of the buyers.


“I am not saying government is not doing enough but perhaps the experience required to market Malawi’s tobacco overseas is a bit lacking…I personally feel that a tobacco farmer is not getting a fair share from the Malawian buyers,” Buckle said.

Commenting on the currently contested contract farming, Buckle said time has come for government and stakeholders to think outside the box and explore other workable systems that would work in favour of both companies and the farmers.

Speaking on April 20, 2021 when he presided over the official opening for this year’s tobacco marketing season, President Lazarus Chakwera said the country should ponder on an exit strategy from over-reliance on tobacco as forex earner. But Buckle advised against rushed decisions.


He warned Malawi against bowing down to pressure of the antismoking lobby currently being championed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said until the country gets a viable alternative backbone for the economy, there is need to pay attention to the sector.

“The anti-smoking lobby exists because there is a smoker and in my opinion I don’t see tobacco disappearing ever, the industry is evolving and let’s evolve with it, you don’t want a situation where you fall back as a country and then leap-frog,” he explained.

Reacting to Buckle’s observation, chairperson of the Tobacco Commission Harry Mkandawire, said they admit that they have not been vigilant in marketing the country’s leaf.

“This is why instead of just looking up to the traditional buyers, my commission is on a searching spree in other countries, where we want to woo more buyers so that we can at least change the fortunes of our farmers,” Mkandawire said.

Figures from the National Statistical Office figures indicate that in the past decade earnings from the crop declined by 45 percent from $433 million in 2009 to $237 million in 2019 and $169 million in 2020.

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