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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Farmers should benefit from tobacco sales

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The opening of the tobacco market has been an important undertaking for a long time and the presence of President Peter Mutharika this year once again underlines this significance.

Unsurprisingly, Democratic Progressive Party’s Secretary General Grelzedar Jeffrey decided to trivialise this important function by turning the podium into a political platform.

Since the Public Affairs Committee’s expected criticism of Mutharika’s leadership a week ago, party loyalists have seized the opportunity to relentlessly defend the President and the party.

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What Jeffrey did is a hint of what to expect as we head towards 2019 elections; it will be a familiar pattern where party officials would sing own praises while attacking critics. They will not stop there but confidently assure supporters how easy it would be during the next election.

But trivia should be treated as such. Instead, we should concentrate on more important issues regarding the tobacco market. Yesterday, the more important issue was the launch of the tobacco marketing season.

It is everyone’s knowledge that despite tobacco’s unpopularity internationally, the crop remains important to the economy of Malawi. Just as the crop is important, we also expect the farmers who toil during the growing season to benefit more than anyone else.

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As observed by Mutharika, the tobacco produced this year is lower than the market demand. Based on the forces on the market, we expect that the tobacco prices should be fair.

We believe that the buyers will offer better prices so that the farmers’ lives can improve. There is so much exploitation which goes unattended and farmers remain poor while those who do not deserve it smile all the way to the bank at the close of the auction.

As it has been observed in the past, the farmers are at the mercy of the buyers, that is why every year the challenges remain unresolved.

As the new marketing season commences, something should be done to make sure that the situation is different from previous years. It is very unfair that farmers should continue suffering every year.

Instead of looking away and pretend that nothing is wrong, this is an opportunity to correct the unfair practices that resurface during the tobacco marketing season.

We are optimistic that Mutharika will fulfill his promise by monitoring the tobacco market. This will ensure that farmers benefit more from the sales.

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