By Wezzie Gausi:
The Tobacco Commission (TC) has quashed assertions that the country’s tobacco industry is dying and that farmers need to ditch the crop for other commodities.
The sentiments were made on the sidelines of an interface between the commission and Media Network on Tobacco in Lilongwe on Saturday.
TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the industry is not failing but, rather, the country is failing short of production.
He attributed low output to the negative publicity from non-governmental organisations that are telling farmers that the industry is dying.
“If NGOs are to talk about diversification; let them do so without mentioning tobacco. As far as we are concerned, the industry is here to stay. There is no way farmers can be encouraged to continue growing the crop amid so much negativity about the crop,” Malunga said.
At the opening of the tobacco selling season this year, President Lazarus Chakwera said he saw no future in the industry despite the crop contributing substantially to the local economy.
Chakwera said it is high time the country switched to other cash crops like cannabis, which was legalised in 2020 for industrial and medicinal use.
Meanwhile, TC has commenced registration for the 2021-22 growing season.
Malunga said the commission was upbeat that the commodity would fetch better prices on the market next year.
President for Media Network on Tobacco Alfred Chauwa said
Information is vital for the economy of the nation.
“As media, our role is to give out right information to people and that includes farmers. We all know our economy is agro-based and tobacco is the main contributor,” Chauwa said.