Minister slams tobacco companies


Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Allan Chiyembekeza has hit at players in the tobacco industry for making decisions that have affected credibility of the industry.

Chiyembekeza took advantage at the opening ceremony of this year’s tobacco seminar underway in Lilongwe which gives a platform for the industry players to discuss issues affecting the tobacco business.

“It is disheartening to see that after they agree on one thing, through this conference, they start saying different things outside and that is affecting the picture of the industry,” said Chiyembekeza in an interview.


He, however, said the new tobacco legislation will bring sanity as it aims to control issues of marketing system, grower registration, transportation of tobacco, production volumes among others.

The tobacco industry is hit by divisions between the proponents of contract and auction marketing systems as buyers have openly expressed preference for contract while Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) and the AHL Group, who have been the rock base of the tobacco sales in the country, argue that farmers should have equal options of marketing their leaf between the two systems.

With a seemingly backing of the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), the contract system has been given more preference as it accounts for 80 percent of the total volumes of tobacco on the market.


The buyers present at the conference could typically not grant interviews but the TCC Chief Executive Officer, Albert Changaya, said the conference will have to agree on all contentious issues at the end of the two-day event to ensure the industry is united.

“We have a lot of issues that would be addressed through this conference because the tobacco stakeholders will discuss and agree how to move forward,’ said Changaya.

The industry had a slump last season when the farmers over-produced the volumes of tobacco that reached 195 million kilogrammes against buyers demand of 165 million, hence prices and earnings were lower than the previous year.

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