Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), the country’s largest tobacco representative organisation, will host a two-day International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) Africa region meeting in Lilongwe from tomorrow to discuss issues affecting the sector.
Each year, ITGA holds regional meetings based on continental blocs on a rotation basis and this year, the Africa bloc chose Malawi as a host, according to Tama communications officer Sam Kalimba.
“About three tobacco growing African countries have confirmed they will take part in the meeting,” he said.
The countries, according to Kalimba, are South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He said the meeting will help tackle some of the key resolutions made during the last Conference of Parties (CoP) which agreed to stop using burley tobacco as an additive in the blending of cigarettes.
Malawi is Africa’s biggest producer of burley, produced by a majority of smallholder farmers across the country. The country is second only to Brazil in the world in terms of burley production.
Kalimba said ITGA president Francois van der Merwe, who also doubles as South Africa’s tobacco growers president, will be in attendance.
He said a team from ITGA secretariat in Portugal will also take part led by its chief executive officer Antonio Abrunhosa.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza is expected to officially open the meeting.
ITGA is a non-profit organisation founded in 1984, representing the cause of millions of tobacco growers worldwide.
The association holds the belief that every tobacco farmer, regardless of the size of the land cultivated and the volume of tobacco produced, has the right to be represented internationally.
Tobacco growers all over the world share similar problems, threats and challenges, regardless of the size of their production, according to ITGA.
Tobacco is the country’s main foreign exchange earner and contributes about 60 percent to all the foreign exchange earnings and 13 percent to the national economy.
Currently, the leaf is being sold in all the country’s auction floors of Lilongwe, Limbe in Blantyre, Chinkhoma in Kasungu and Mzuzu in the Northern Region.
After 12 weeks of tobacco sales, a total of 106.14 million kilogrammes (kg) were sold at an average price of $1.73 (K778.50) per kg, resulting in a value of $183.54 million (about K82 billion) compared to the same period in 2014 where a total of 94.08 million kg were traded at an average price of $1.71 (K769) per kg, resulting in a value of $160.44 million (K72 billion).