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Players for sanity in tobacco industry

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Players in the tobacco industry have reiterated that supply-chain due diligence is the only way to sustain and grow the tobacco industry, moving forward.

This came out at the 2021 Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) conference at the weekend in Mangochi.

Making a presentation at the event, Japan Tobacco International Leaf Malawi Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Limbani Kakhome said European Union (EU) member states were contemplating imposing sanctions on countries purportedly producing tobacco using child and forced labour.

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He said such laws are currently being prepared for implementation next year.

“The EU is likely going to pass a law similar to the Withhold and Release Order imposed by the United States. We should be ahead of the game and not only in tobacco but across our tobacco exports,” Kakhome said.

Tobacco Commission (TC) Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga, in his presentation, lamented negative publicity on the industry that has propelled such a stance by tobacco export markets.

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“Most of the requirements by buyers have been met. We are not violating human rights, we have removed child labour in the fields and we are building confidence,” Chidanti Malunga said.

Meanwhile, Malunga has projected that the next tobacco season will be a success with the leaf likely to fetch higher prices.

He revealed this during a ‘Times Exclusive’ programme on Saturday evening.

Malunga said the commission has amended its relationships with the buyers who were in the country recently and the commission visited some in their respective countries to discuss market trends.

For the past two years, tobacco output has been lower than international market demand.

During the just ended season, Malawi produced 118 million kilogrammes (kg) against a 154 million kg demand.

In a separate interview, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda urged farmers to make the most of the goodwill.

“The reason the country is providing less tobacco than demanded is because farmers are frustrated with the prices; so, if TC is right that we will have good markets, I want to encourage farmers to farm tobacco wholeheartedly,” Banda said.

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