The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said it has intensified efforts to bring sanity in the tobacco industry to ensure that farmers and the economy as a whole continue to realise more benefits from the leaf.
This comes ahead of the opening of the 2018 tobacco marketing season, tentatively scheduled for April 2018.
TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said rebuilding the sector’s structures now would help create resilience for the crop and market efficiency.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s major foreign exchange earner followed by tea and sugar, but it has continued to lose its momentum over the years, mainly due to the global anti-smoking campaign.
This has led to a drop in international market demand for the leaf.
Sadala, however, said not all is lost for the leaf, hence a need to create an enabling environment for structured production and market.
Among other things, he said, going forward, the regulator would ensure enforcement of laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco from uncertified seed and also curb parallel markets.
The Tobacco Act prohibits anyone from buying tobacco without a valid buying licence and in places that are not licensed.
He said in line with the provisions of the law, the commission shall, by order of the court, destroy and forfeit such tobacco.
He called on tobacco farmers not to sell their tobacco to intermediate buyers.
“There will be no market for non-registered traders at the floors. We are sending a signal to the market that these things cannot be tolerated any further,” Sadala said.
The TCC chief expressed worry over the tendency by some growers to include non-tobacco-related materials in their bales, saying the development erodes the confidence that buyers have in Malawi tobacco.
Sadala said TCC shall enforce stringent measures to completely eradicate non-tobacco-related materials and nesting from tobacco in order to maintain the high-quality standards of Malawi’s tobacco at global level.
Meanwhile, TCC has also since deployed measures to review charges and levies farmers pay through the tobacco supply chain to protect the grower.
According to first-round crop assessment figures, Malawi’s tobacco production is estimated at about 149 million kgs this year, almost 12.8 percent less of the international market demand.
For the 2018 marketing season, buyers need 171 million kgs of all kinds of tobacco.