The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has asked tobacco growers to mobilise themselves into cooperatives to have bargaining power on pricing.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri made the call on Saturday during the official opening of the 2017 World Tobacco Growers’ Day Commemorations in Mzuzu.
He said the availability of cooperatives among tobacco growers in other countries has proven to be successful; hence, the need for local growers to follow suit.
Nyandule Phiri said with cooperatives, it will also be easy for tobacco growers to access loans from commercial banks.
“We believe that by having many cooperatives among our tobacco farmers, it can lead to the creation of proper markets and easy access to bank loans.
“The tobacco value needs to be complimented. The ministry encourages all farmers to practice crop diversification in the wake of the global [anti-smoking] challenge,” he said.
Phiri also asked tobacco growers to produce according to international trade requirements.
The current demand for tobacco this year is at 160 million kilogrammes, according to Tobacco Control Commission (TCC).
Speaking earlier, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president Abiel Banda, who is also vice-president of International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) asked government to continue with its strong support to tobacco farming.
One of the tobacco growers from Rumphi, Lucky Chirambo, said they are already engaged in the production of other crops, n