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JTI rules out alternative crop loans this year

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One of Malawi’s tobacco buying companies, JTI Leaf Malawi, has said it has no stock of fertiliser to supply to farmers for maize production this season.

This follows increased calls from some contracted tobacco farmers to have a review of a provision of the tobacco Act which bars buying companies from providing inputs for non-tobacco related crops to their contracted growers.

This came out during a media tour the company organised over the weekend in Mzimba.

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Responding to calls from farmers, JTI Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Limbani Kakhome said it was not possible for the company to provide solutions in the current scenario.

“In the current situation, even if we were given a chance to supply fertiliser to the farmer, we would not because we do not have any stocks.

“But if the provision were there for next year, we would engage our colleagues to see the possibility of coming back with such support,” Kakhome said.

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One of the farmers, Harvey Nyirenda, said accessing fertilisers on credit was way cheaper.

But Member of Parliament for the constituency Yeremiya Chihana said most tobacco farmers are not included in the programme.

“First of all, the absence of fertilisers from JTI among these farmers is a big problem and the progress on AIP is very detrimental. We are going into the rainy season and we do not see any significant quantity of fertiliser which Malawi requires,” Chihana said.

He added that the Agriculture Committee of Parliament, which he is a member of, is already preparing a motion to present to Parliament to repeal laws deterring tobacco-buying companies from supplying fertiliser for maize to farmers.

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