One of Malawiâ€™s major tobacco buyers, the Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has said it is seeking for a predictable tobacco supply in Malawi which it says is good for sustaining the tobacco industry in the country.
JTI managing director Neville Young said this in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe on Thursday on the sidelines of the companyâ€™s commissioning of laboratory equipment at the Agriculture Research and Extension Trust (Aret).
“We are looking for a predictable supply of tobacco and this will ensure sustainable returns for tobacco growers,” said Young.
JTI was commenting on the newly-introduced tobacco production system called the Integrated Production System (IPS).
Among others, IPS entails the production of high-quality food and other products by using natural resources and regulating mechanisms to replace polluting inputs and to secure sustainable farming.
Under the new tobacco production system, farmers will be able to access bank loans through the sponsored crops which in a way integrate the farmers to the trade requirements.
Tobacco industry experts also contend that the new system will eliminate speculative tobacco production which he said has often resulted in uncontrolled crop size.
“We are encouraged by the IPS policy and we think this is a move in the right direction,” added Young.
He also echoed call by tobacco industry experts, saying IPS will help fight against the World Health Organisationâ€™s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) guidelines and measures which seek to abolish tobacco farming by the year 2025.
While describing FCTC as a very big challenge to Malawiâ€™s tobacco industry, Young, however, said his company has been assisting the Malawi Government to develop strategy to deal with the matter.
Commenting on this yearâ€™s tobacco marketing, Young said the company was pleased to see good quality tobacco flowing to the market this year unlike last year.
“We have seen good quality tobacco this year, but still there is an opportunity to improve so that there are sustainable returns to the growers and also help the inflow of forex into the country,” he said.