Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe Tuesday said tobacco would remain Malawi’s major cash crop until an alternative is identified.
Lowe said as such operations of the Tobacco Commission (TC) must conform to the Malawi 2063, a long term national economic development blueprint.
He was speaking at the launch of a two-year strategic plan for the regulator, Tobacco Commission in Lilongwe.
“If you consider all value chains, it is only tobacco that has structured markets. Unless we have other value chains following, we will all move away from the crop,” he said
Lowe said the strategic plan would help to bring sanity and improve productivity in the tobacco industry as there are many forces to be addressed.
Among other forces that have driven the change include level of production, technology global and market demands among others.
The commission’s board Chairperson Harry Mkandawire said the review of the plan is an assurance to buyers and end users that the industry is ready to reform and eliminate issues of child labour and tenancies.
Mkandawire also said the commission is in the process of searching for new buyers and increasing productivity to meet their demands.
“At the moment we’ve had a new buyer from Zimbabwe who has bought a few millions of tobacco. We will be traveling to another country to see if we can find more buyers,” he said
Managing Director of one of the buyers JTI Malawi, John Gauna said there is need to drive efficiencies, productivity across the supply chain as the global demand continues to decline.
This year the country has sold more than 122 million Kilogrammes (Ks) of tobacco against the demand of 140 million Kg.
So far the country has fetched $194.9 million with an average price of $1.60 per Kg.
The commission also unveiled a new logo, whose features represent clean production and marketing systems that are free from human rights violations.
TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the logo also represents the commission’s drive for environmental-friendly tobacco production and its supremacy to the contribution of the economy, among others.