President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday met tobacco buyers at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, ahead of the opening of the market yesterday, where he pleaded with companies to offer “fair” prices.
Stressing the importance of tobacco to the country’s economy, Mutharika said he understands the fact that the tobacco buyers are in the country to make profits.
Mutharika, however, insisted that the country too and farmers need profits as everyone is in business.
“No matter what system you use, make sure that the farmer gets a fair price. Obviously, we know that you are not missionaries, you are here to make money, but in the process, we are also here to make money.
“The country and our farmers would also like to benefit from that so let’s see if we can work on a system that is mutually beneficial. We [should work] together for the benefit of the whole country,” he said.
Commenting on the controversial issue of the two selling systems, auction and contract, Mutharika said he does not care which system is used as long as the prices are profitable to the farmers.
He, however, observed that farmers are experiencing a lot of challenges in the Integrated Production System (IPS) that include expensive loans for production capital, lack of price agreements with the buyers and high rejection rates, among others.
Limbe Leaf Tobacco Managing Director, Rod Hugger, said the buyers always have pressure on compliance issues and traceability of the tobacco; hence, the IPS system is the future of the tobacco industry in the country.
Hugger, however, said the companies are serious about the industry in the country, hence the heavy investments they continue to make in infrastructure and services to the farmers.
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