Lilongwe — File photo
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha has described the passing of tobacco bill in parliament as a milestone in bring sanity in the tobacco industry.
He said this Thursday at Bingu Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe during a working dinner for Members of Parliamentary Committees on Agriculture, Legal and Tarde, Board of Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) and senior members of Staff from the Ministry.
Mwanamvekha said the tobacco industry has been dogged with a lot of complaints from farmers, transporters and buyers on how the industry was been managed.
"The bill will help to iron out some of the challenge the industry was facing such as pricing, quality of the leaf and contract farming. This will enable all players to pay their rightful role in the sector," the Minister pointed out.
He said the bill would empower the farmers to have a voice and benefit from the proceeds of their hard work.
Mwanamvekha added that the President was keen to ensure that the bill is passed and it has been achieved after 13 years of vigorous consultations.
"Tobacco sector remains the key drive in the foreign exchange earner of the country. The sector crates employment opportunities to many Malawians and all stakeholders should rejoice for the passing of this bill," he said.
The Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Chidanti Malunga said the consultations for the formulation of the bill was not easy.
He said the wide consultations that were done with various stakeholders has helped to reshape the bill for the betterment of the tobacco industry which a main stay of the country's economy.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for TCC, Kaisi Sadala said the bill would bring a lot of structural changes in the tobacco industry in the country.
He said the bill had demarcated responsibilities to all stakeholders in the industry to ensure that there is no need of overlaps in managing the affairs of the sector.
We need to sit down, plan and strategize with all stakeholders in the industry to understand the bill and they should be aware of what is expected of them in the long run," Kaisi explained.
The CEO said there is need to do a lot of investment for the bill to be understood among key stakeholders in order to reduce issues of conflicts and misunderstanding and awareness campaigns would be essential tool.