Agriculture committee for Tobacco Act amendment
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has indicated that it will push for a quick tabling of the Tobacco Bill, which intends to amend some sections of the Tobacco Industry Act of 2019.
This came out over the weekend when the committee visited Limbe Auction Floors to appreciate progress of tobacco sales at the market, which started a week ago.
Chairperson for the committee Sameer Suleman said the law, once amended, will protect farmers and improve the cultivation of tobacco, which is Malawi’s main cash crop.
Among other things, the review is expected to amend Section 47(1) which criminalises buying and selling of tobacco without a contract.
The offence attracts a K10 million fine for the buyer and 20 percent proceeds from the tobacco sold for the farmers are confiscated.
“We are pushing for that bill to come so that it is passed because the bill is important as it is rectifying some of hiccups that were there, more especially in protecting farmers from tobacco buyers,” Suleman said.
On progress of sales on the market, Suleman said the committee was impressed with the market because prices were above government set minimum price.
Tobacco Commission Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga expressed hope that trends on the market will motivate farmers to produce more tobacco next farming season.
“We have brought in more buyers. Soon we will be exporting the tobacco to China and we are at an advanced stage in changing the law, things which will make tobacco farming more attractive. Moving forward, we expect production of the crop to continue rising,” Malunga said.
Farmers have also been complaining about Section 45(3) of the Act, which prohibits farmers from accessing inputs for alternative crops in case of funded contract farming.
This section of the law was not being fully enforced as tobacco-buying companies were being allowed to give contracted farmers inputs for alternative crops until recently.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.