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Tobacco growers urged to diversify

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By Watipaso Mzungu, Contributor:

Tobacco growers in the country have been urged to consider diversifying production as a remedy for the global anti-smoking campaign.

The call was made on Wednesday in Mzimba District during a seeds fair hosted by the National Smallholders Farmers’ Association of Malawi (Nasfam) and one of the country’s tobacco buying companies, Alliance One Tobacco Limited.

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Nasfam Regional Commercial and Tobacco Operations Officer (North), Sam Mwalwanda, said as the global anti-smoking campaign persists, the risk would be high for the local industry.

“The anti-smoking campaign is real and aggressive and this calls for farmers to diversify. Besides tobacco, we encourage our members to grow other cash crops,” Mwalwanda said.

He recommended beans, sunflower, soya and groundnuts among other alternative crops.

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One of official from Alliance One, Sam Harrison, said the company has started distributing seeds of other crops to its farmers.

Media reports suggests that demand for Malawi tobacco could plummet in the 2018/19 season following a prolonged market and bloated volumes that characterised the sale of the green gold this year.

Early this year the Tobacco Control Commission announced that the country produced 147.8 million kilogrammes against a demand of 171 million kilogrammes.

However, at the close of the selling season the commission registered that 202 million kilograms of all types of tobacco were sold on the market this year, realizing $337 million dollars.

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