One of the country’s tobacco buying companies, Alliance One Tobacco Malawi, has urged tobacco farmers in the country to adopt Agriculture Labour Practices (ALP) initiative for their tobacco to get readily available markets both in the country and abroad.
Alliance One Sustainability Coordinator, Herthewick Khuzenje, made the call recently in Kasungu District, where his company organised an ALP Open Day to sensitise smallholder farmers, who are cultivating tobacco under the Integrated Production System (IPS), to the importance of adopting the ALP programme in tobacco farming.
Khuzenje said most tobacco buying companies, including Alliance One, are advocating the adoption of the ALP programme because international buyers are only interested in buying tobacco produced under this new initiative.
He said the ALP programme encourages tobacco growers to follow seven principles that are recommended internationally. Among other things, the principles encourage farmers not to use children, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers as a source of labour in all stages of tobacco production.
“As a company, Alliance One is advocating the adoption of, and adherence to, the ALP programme in all countries where it buys tobacco, including here in Malawi, because this initiative promotes good principles in tobacco production since child labour is not tolerated. This ALP programme also bars pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers from taking part in any stage of tobacco production to avoid putting both the life of the woman and the kid in danger,” Khuzenje said.
He added that the ALP programme encourages tobacco farmers to follow international principles of tobacco cultivation such as the use of certified tobacco seeds and pesticides. He said, once local farmers adopt the ALP programme, tobacco from Malawi would have plenty of markets both locally and internationally.
“Let me urge tobacco farmers who are growing tobacco under IPS with our company to continue doing so because you will be assured of ready and good markets for your tobacco since international buyers are also interested in buying the type of tobacco which you grow under the ALP programme,” he said.
Khuzenje said tobacco is facing numerous challenges such as the anti-tobacco smoking lobby championed by the World Health Organisations (WHO); hence, all international tobacco buyers, including Alliance One, are only interested in purchasing tobacco which is produced under the ALP programme.
Khuzenje said the ALP programme has been introduced as one way of following rules and regulations set aside by WHO in collaboration with global cigarette manufacturing companies such as Phillip Morris International of the United States and Imperial Tobacco Group of the United Kingdom.
A representative of farmers who are growing tobacco under contract farming system with Alliance One, Masiye Mwale, said most smallholder tobacco growers in the district were cultivating tobacco through the ALP programme because they are sure that they have ready markets.
Mwale said Alliance One has deployed leaf technicians in all parts of Kasungu, saying the technicians are giving farmers pieces of advice on how best they can cultivate their tobacco, a development that has prompted “many farmers” in the district to adopt the ALP system with ease.
“There are over 5,000 smallholder tobacco farmers here [in Kasungu] who are growing tobacco under the ALP programme because of assurances of ready markets,” Mwale said.
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