8 November 2017

Malawi: Tobacco Peasants Skeptical to Register for the 2017/18 Growing Season

Blantyre — It's now over three weeks since the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) extended the registration period for the 2017/18 tobacco growing season, some peasants and commercial tobacco farmers are reluctant to register.

The revelation was made available to Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Tuesday through an e-mailed response by TCC President, Bruce Munthali.

"Three weeks have now elapsed since the commission extended the tobacco registration period for the forthcoming season following very miserable turn up of most peasant farmers including the seemingly advanced commercial tobacco growers.

"This indeed may bring a devastating consequence and negative impact on our part, considering that, as you pretty fine aware that the 'green leaf' to date, remains the country's chief forex earner and that our economy is basically agro-based; as such we are compelled to extend the registration duration to an unspecified date in order to allow more tobacco farmers register prior to the onset of the actual growing season," he observed.

Munthali was quick to elaborate that the erratic, inconsistent tobacco pricing at auction floors, beside the much-touted anti-smoking lobby on the international market amongst several other factors which he did not highlight, could be the outstanding reasons for the tobacco growing peasants' skeptical and hesitant stand to register for the forthcoming tobacco growing season.

Random interviews of tobacco farmers revealed that they were frustrated with what happens at the auction floors.

"The processing activities of the commercial crop, right from the onset is too involving, exhaustive and cumbersome; but to our total dismay, what happens at auction floors, is simply total frustrations and demotivate," a farmer from Mbulumbuzi, Samson Mang'anda explained.

"Considering that after pocketing the 'meagre', just like any tobacco grower; we are supposed to settle all outstanding bills involving labour, transportation costs, processing-related fees, purchase of next season's inputs, things like chemical fertilizers, spraying equipment just to mention the least, in readiness for the forthcoming growing season; and yet we no longer anticipate the intended benefit as anyone else could perceive," a peaseant farmer, Zilani Kenani pointed out.

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