By Taonga Sabola:
One of the country’s tobacco buyers, Japanese Tobacco International (JTI) Malawi, on Thursday engaged business reporters in Lilongwe where the firm simplified the Integrated Production System (IPS).
Managing Director, Fries Vanneste, said journalists have an important role to play in informing Malawians about the market for tobacco, which remains Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner.
Vanneste urged reporters to be responsible in their reporting to ensure a robust tobacco market.
JTI Malawi chief said although the words IPS and contract farming have been used interchangeably by reporters, they do not exactly mean the same thing.
Vanneste said, unlike in contract farming, firms in IPS walk together with growers at all stages of farming to ensure that they produce the desired crop quality and quantity.
“In contract farming, you just give the growers inputs and leave them on their own to produce the crop. But in IPS, we make sure technicians visit the growers at every stage from the nursery to ensure that they produce the desired crop,” Vanneste said.
He described the last season as good for both the company as well as its growers.
Vanneste urged the reporters to bounce back with the firm when they have any queries regarding JTI.
Speaking on behalf of Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Grey Nyandule Phiri, Tobacco Control Commission Chief Executive Officer, Kayisi Sadala, said tobacco remains a strategic crop for Malawi, hence the need for stakeholders, to exercise caution in disseminating information about the industry.
Sadala said pockets of irresponsible reporting have potential to bring down the industry.