Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) has described Malawiâ€™s fight against the World Health Organisationâ€™s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) guidelines as a â€˜glaring writing on the wallâ€™.
Malawiâ€™s auctioneer also said the guidelines will continue to have a strong bearing on the economy.
AHL has warned that if the WHO-FCTC guidelines are implemented, most tobacco growers risk an immediate shock of losing out on the traditional revenue from tobacco, which wires in about 60 percent of Malawiâ€™s foreign currency earnings and contribute 13 percent to the national economy.
AHL chief executive officer Evans Matabwa said this in his presentation titled â€˜A Stitch in Time: Deleting the Economics of Overdependenceâ€™ at the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) conference in the lakeshore district of Mangochi last week.
â€œAt the time of this presentation, the Conference of Parties would be meeting in South Korea where Malawi and other tobacco growing countries would be expected to put a strong case against these articles.
â€œIn the current circumstances, this again is another glaring writing on the wall. This pressure will continue to mount,â€ he said.
FCTC is the brainchild of the WHO specifically detailed to handle anti-tobacco issues and its treaty carries a whole range of articles which target an eventual end to the world of smoking.
Among others, articles 17 and 18 of FCTC press hard for the implementation of economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing and propose the discontinuance of tobacco financing and incentive programmes and also curtailing support mechanisms that promote tobacco production.
The articles also seek to reduce land under tobacco cultivation, stop all government policies that promote production and remove minimum support prices.
On one hand, articles 9 and 10 propagate limitations on the type of ingredients that make up a cigarette.
While describing the fight against smoking as getting fierce, Matabwa observed that Malawi could be sitting on a â€˜sharp edgeâ€™ given the fact that FCTC matters are not completely resolved.
â€œPerhaps the question could be why did Malawi not promote flue-cured tobacco which is not targeted under these [FCTC] articles? Indeed why not, considering the flue-cured smoking numbers estimated at four hundred million in China alone?â€ queried Matabwa.
Currently, Malawi is ranked the worldâ€™s number one producer of burley tobacco and local tobacco experts contend that the countryâ€™s burley has a good reputation world over.
Matabwa said in the event that articles 9 and 10 are endorsed in their entirety, Malawi will instantly get into serious problems on the economic front.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Peter Mwanza said in a recent interview in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, that government is aware that â€˜warâ€™ on tobacco continues through FCTC and that problems currently being faced are as a result of the implications of the convention.
The minister admitted that FCTC will continue to take its toll by way of having several implications on production, marketing and consumption.
According to Mwanza, FCTC has succeeded in reducing the consumption of tobacco in some parts of the world and suggested that there has to be a corresponding effect on production on Malawi.
Currently, Malawi is not yet a party to FCTC, but Mwanza informed delegates who attended the congress that currently Malawi is looking into the issue of joining FCTC at cabinet level.